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Uniform with this volume 


Setting forth the historical and literary 
associations of those ancient hostelries, 
together with an account of the most 
notable coffee-houses, clubs, and pleasure 
gardens of the British metropolis. 



With coloured frontispiece, and 
48 other illustrations 

53 Beacon Street, Boston, Mass. 

The Chequers, Loose 








" WHY do your guide books tell us about 
nothing but Churches and Manor Houses ?" 
Such was the not altogether unjustifiable 
complaint of an American friend whose 
motor car was undergoing repairs. He was 
stranded in a sleepy old market town of 
winding streets, overhanging structures and 
oddly set gables, where every stone and 
carved beam seemed only waiting an 
interpreter to unfold its story. 

In the following pages we have attempted 
a classification and description of the inns, 
which not only sheltered our forefathers 
when on their journeys, but served as their 
usual places for meeting and recreation. 
The subject is by no means exhausted. All 
over England there are hundreds of other 
old inns quite as interesting as those which 
find mention, and it is hoped that our 
work may prove for many tourists the 
introduction to a most fascinating study. 

Thoughtful men, including earnest Church- 
men such as the Bishop of Birmingham and 


vi Preface 

the Rev. H. R. Gamble, are asking the 
question whether the old inns should be 
allowed to disappear. The public house as 
a national institution has still its purposes 
to fulfil, and a few suggestions have there- 
fore been included with a view of showing 
how it might easily be adapted to modern 
social needs. 





















THE CHEQUERS, LOOSE . . . Frontispiece 



THE BULL, SUDBURY . . . . . .19 


THE SWAN, FELSTEAD . . . . . .51 

PORCH, CHALK CHURCH, KENT . . . facing 67 





THE CHEQUERS, DODDINGTON . . . facing 104 




List oi Illustrations ix 




LAWRENCE ....... 136 




THE SHIP, WINGHAM . . . . . .194 




MARKET ,,228 







The King's Arms, Hemel Hempstead 




WHICH among the thousand of old inns to 
be met with on our country roads has a right 
to be called the oldest ? There are many 
claimants. The title-deeds of the Saracen's 
Head at Newark refer back to 1341. Local 
antiquaries cite documentary evidence to 
prove that the Seven Stars at Manchester 
existed before the year 1356. Symond 
Potyn, who founded St. Catherine's Hospital 
for poor Pilgrims at Rochester in 1316, is 
described as "of the Crown Inn." A Not- 
tingham ballad relates the adventures of one 
Dame Rose who kept the Ram in that town 
" in the days of good King Stephen." Then 
we have the witness of the German Ambas- 
sador to the comfort and excellence of the 
Fountain at Canterbury, when he lodged there 
in 1299, on the occasion of the marriage of 
King Edward I to Margaret of France. Nay, 
the legend runs that within its walls the four 
murderers of St. Thomas arranged the last 

* 1 2 Old Country Inns 

details of their plot in 1170, and that the wife 
of Earl Godwin stayed at this inn in 1029. 
But what are all these compared with the 
Fighting Cocks at St. Albans, said to be the 
oldest inhabited house in England ? A few 
years ago its signboard modestly chronicled 
the fact that it had been " Rebuilt after the 

Nevertheless, we can safely assert that no 
English inn has a history of more than 800 
years, and that very few hostelries can trace 
their independent existence to a period 
earlier than the fourteenth century. Until 
the towns had acquired rights of self-govern- 
ment and trade had in consequence begun to 
expand, there was little occasion for inns. 
England under the Norman kings was a 
purely agricultural country with scattered 
villages where dependent tillers of the soil 
grouped their clay-walled thatched hovels 
around church and manor-house. Even 
ancient towns, with a record of a thousand 
years, were merely rather larger villages on 
a navigable river or a cross road. Foreign 
merchant ships were just beginning to call 
once more at the seaports on the chance of 

Travelling on the roads was attended with 

Manorial Inns 

serious dangers and inconveniences. Rob- 
bers abounded, some not so courteous and 
discriminating as the legendary Robin Hood. 
Armed retainers at the tail of some noble 
lord's retinue were occasionally not above a 
little highway robbery on their own account, 
and if the victim failed to beat off his assailant 
his remedy at law was precarious at best. 
Such a band, if sufficiently numerous, would 
even go so far as to attack the King's officers 
sent in pursuit of them. The journey might 
at any time be brought to an abrupt conclu- 
sion because the travellers' horses and carts 
were forcibly commandeered by the purveyor 
to the King or some great noble. The roads 
themselves were in a disgraceful state, full 
of deep ruts, holes and quagmires, quite 
impassable in wet weather ; their repair was 
left to chance or the good-will of neighbouring 
owners. In the towns they were encumbered 
with heaps of refuse. The rolls of Parlia- 
ment from the reign of Edward I onward 
contain numerous petitions for a regular 
highway tax. 

A curious illustration of the lack of any 
systematic authority over the roads, even as 
late as the fifteenth century, is preserved in 
the records of the Manor of Aylesbury. A 

Old Country Inns 

local miller, named Richard Boose, needed 
some ramming clay for the repair of his mill. 
Accordingly his servants dug a great pit in 
the middle of the road, ten feet wide and 
eight feet deep, and so left it to become filled 
with water from the winter rains. A glover 
from Leighton Buzzard, on his way home 
from market, fell in and was drowned. 
Charged with manslaughter, the miller pleaded 
that he knew no place wherein to get the 
kind of clay he required except on the high 
road. He was acquitted. 1 

Furthermore, all England was parcelled 
out into manors, each a little principality in 
itself presided over by a lord who in practice 
possessed summary rights over life and pro- 
perty within his domain. A stranger might 
be called upon to undergo a very searching 
examination to account for his presence in 
the neighbourhood. Most of the inhabitants 
were forbidden to leave the demesne without 
the consent of their lord. Not that this was 
a great hardship; the idea of a journey 
rarely occurs to the bucolic mind, and fully 
half the rural population of England in these 
days of cheap railway excursions are content 
to spend their lives within their native parish, 

1 Parker's " Manor of Aylesbury," 14. 

Manorial Inns 

or at any rate never venture beyond the 
market town. 

In every manor there was a manor-house, 
the residence of the lord and the centre of 
the life of the community. It was usually 
quite a simple building on the main street 
near the church. Here were held the manor 
courts, view of frank pledge, assize of bread 
and ale and other quaint customs, some of 
which have come down to our own days. 
Hither at Hocktide and harvest would 
come the tenants and their wives, bringing 
their own platters, cups and napkins for their 

Such few travellers as were benighted on 
the road, small merchants or pedlars going 
to a local fair, a knight or squire on his way 
to court, Kings' messengers and officials, 
would naturally put up at the manor-house. 
Hospitality was so rarely called for that it 
was willingly afforded, just as it is at an Aus- 
tralian homestead in the backwoods. One 
more sleeping place on the rushes in the hall, 
another seat at the common table above 
or below the salt according to the hosteller's 
estimate of the guest's condition in life 
was no great matter. Doubtless each in his 
own degree made his present to the hosteller 

6 Old Country Inns 

in the morning ; the butler in a country 
house still expects his solatium from the 
parting guest. 

By the middle of the fourteenth century 
the roads had become more frequented, and 
it was no longer the fashion for the lord to 
reside in the comparatively humble manor- 
house. The cost of living had seriously 
increased ; the nobility were impoverished 
by attendance at court, the foreign wars, and 
their crowd of retainers. So the lord retired 
to his more secluded castle or country seat, 
leaving strangers to be entertained at the 
manor-house by a steward who afterwards 
was replaced by a regular innkeeper as tenant. 
Throughout these changes the family crest 
or arms remained on the front of the building. 
Or sometimes the manor-house was turned to 
other uses and an inn was built close by, and 
the coat of arms hung over the door in order 
to induce travellers to transfer their custom 
thither. Such is the origin of the official 
inn throughout feudal Europe, but in the 
Black Forest and the Tyrol the process was 
sometimes completely reversed. As the 
nobility became poorer they parted with 
their estates and turned innkeepers. One 
can still now and then make the surprising 

Memorial Inns 

discovery that mine host is by birth a baron, 
actually entitled to bear the arms above his 
door, and that it is his ancestors who sleep 
under those magnificent marble tombs in 
the minster hard by. 

Inns with heraldic emblems for their signs, 
or called the Norfolk Arms, Dorset Arms, 
Neville Arms, according to the local land- 
owner, abound everywhere the actual arms 
scarcely ever being emblazoned on account 
of the heavy tax on armorial bearings. But 
it is not easy to trace their connection with 
the manor-house. Manors have been alien- 
ated over and over again ; with each change 
the sign on the inn has usually been repainted 
with the arms of the new owner. One of the 
few exceptions is the Tiger at Lindfield, 
which carries us back to the Michelbournes 
of the fourteenth century. 

For a characteristic example of a manorial 
inn we must invite our readers to visit the 
sleepy town of Midhurst, venerable in its 
winding streets of projecting upper stories, 
deeply moulded eaves and gables ; a town 
nestling among the gentler slopes of the South 
Downs, on the banks of that sweetest and 
most musical of trout streams, the Sussex 
Rother. Here is an old inn, far away from 

a (2244) 


Old Country Inns 

the great roads which no vandal has yet 
ventured to rebuild. The older portion dates 
from about 1430, and no doubt stands on the 
site of the original manor-house of the De 
Bohuns. It is an excellent example of an 

The Spread Eagle, Midhurst 

early timber-framed house of the better class, 
with massive old oak ceilings, ingle-nooks 
and " down " fires. The old fireplaces and 
recessed ovens are pronounced by experts to 
be genuine fourteenth-century work. A 
very large addition was made in 1650, when 
the stables were also built. This latter por- 
tion will not be regretted by the visitor who 

Manorial Inns 9 

loves more comfort and cheery surroundings 
than is possible in a conscientiously preserved 
fourteenth-century hotel. 

In clearing away the paint from one of 
the panelled rooms at the Spread Eagle an 
inscription was discovered : " The Queen's 
Room/' possibly referring to the much 
travelled Queen Elizabeth who was enter- 
tained "marvellously, nay rather excessively," 
by Sir Anthony Browne, first Viscount 
Montagu, at Cowdray, in 1591. A melan- 
choly interest attaches to the sign of the 
Spread Eagle. It was the crest of the 
Montagu family, which came to an end 
in 1793 with the drowning of the last 
Viscount Montagu at Schaffhausen, on the 
Rhine, in the very same week that his 
splendid mansion at Cowdray was destroyed 
by fire. 

It is worth noting that the double-gabled 
house in the foreground of our first picture 
of the Spread Eagle (once also an inn, now 
a cosy temperance hotel) was built early in 
the seventeenth century by an ancestor of 
Richard Cobden. 

On royal manors the crown was more 
frequently employed as a distinguishing mark 
of the manorial hall than the royal arms. 


Old Country Inns 

Inns having for their signs the King's Arms 
have usually assumed this title during the 
Reformation period when the royal arms 
were ordered to be set up in the churches. 
An exception is the Kings Arms Hotel at 

The Spread Eagle, Midhurst 

Godalming, which has every reason to claim 
to be the original inn of the royal manor. 
The present building is not much more than 
two centuries old, a fine substantial example 
of red-brick domestic architecture in the 
reign of good Queen Anne. An oak -panelled 

Manorial Inns 11 

room is shown to visitors as that in which 
Peter the Great Czar of Russia slept during 
his visit to England. The landlord's bill on 
this occasion is preserved as a curiosity in 
the Bodleian library. The items of the bill 
are as follows : Breakfast half a sheep, a 
quarter of lamb, ten pullets, twelve chickens, 
three quarts of brandy, six quarts of mulled 
wine, seven dozen of eggs, with salad in pro- 
portion. At dinner the company had five 
ribs of beef weighing three stone, one sheep 
weighing fifty pound, three quarters of lamb, 
a shoulder and loin of veal boiled, eight 
pullets, eight rabbits, two-and-a-half dozen 
sack and one dozen of claret. The number 
of guests was twenty-one. 

There is another old inn at Godalming with 
the sign of Three Lions. We have not been 
able to obtain any authentic information 
about its history, and it may be only a coinci- 
dence that the royal arms before Edward III 
quartered the arms of France consisted of 
three lions on a shield. 

Even if inns that can prove their authentic 
manorial origin are few and far between, 
this class of hostelry must once have been the 
most important of all. The nomenclature 
of the thirteenth-century manor is preserved 

12 Old Country Inns 

in every detail of the modern inn. The 
hosteller remains as the ostler, who now 
usually confines his attention to four-footed 
visitors ; the chamberlain has changed his 
sex (though only since the days of Sir Roger 
de Coverley) and has become the Chamber- 
maid. In most old manor-houses provisions, 
wine and ale were served from a special 
department close to the porch and called the 
11 bower/' from Norse Bur, meaning buttery. 
Frequenters of a modern inn resort for the 
same purpose to the " bar." Lastly, the 
presiding genius in every hotel or tavern, no 
matter how humble, is invariably referred to 
as " the Landlord." The very word " Inn," 
like the French hotel, anciently implied the 
town residence of a nobleman. The Inns 
of Court were nearly all of them houses of 
the nobility converted for the purpose 
of lodging the law students there. The 
same remark applies to the inns which 
preceded the cloistered colleges of our older 

But we usually know the English inn by a 
much nobler name a name which carries 
us back to an age many generations before 
there were any manorial lords to the tribal 
chief, and beyond the tribal chieftain to the 

Manorial Inns 13 

common dwelling of our Aryan forefathers. 
We generally refer to it as " The public- 
house." It is the one secular place of resort 
where we can all forget our social differences ; 
where millionaire and pauper, nobleman and 
navvy can hob-nob together on equal ground 
if they care to do so. The public -house opens 
its doors to every well-behaved citizen without 
distinction of persons. It is the abiding witness 
to the common brotherhood of man. For 
the public -house is not merely an institution 
to provide lodging and refreshment for the 
individual wayfarer, nor yet a shop for the 
sale of certain specific liquids ; it is a place 
where men can meet to entertain each other, 
and converse with their fellow men on equal 
terms. As such it is hateful to the sectary, 
who would fain see men sorted out into 
exclusive coteries for the airing of their own 
opinions and class grievances. 



RURAL England, during the two centuries 
after the Conquest, was practically under 
martial law. The hardy Men of Kent and 
the Vale of Holmsdale were strong enough 
to retain some of their ancient rights and 
privileges. Beyond these districts local 
government was suppressed and a military 
despotism took its place, administered often 
by half-civilized chieftains. One influence 
alone was formidable enough to modify and 
soften the crude tyranny of the feudal system 
that of the Monasteries. 

The religious orders were the only class who 
had directly profited by the new regime to 
increase their power. Hitherto merely 
national they now became, in a way, part of 
an international system. Not that they 
ceased to be patriotic. In the combinations 
against regal misrule which produced the 
Great Charters, Bishops and Abbots threw 
in their lot heartily with the lay barons. 
But in themselves they formed at this time 


Monastic Inns 15 

an almost independent authority with special 
privileges dangerous to meddle with, because 
behind them was the Universal Church and 
its temporal head the Pope, now just reaching 
the zenith of his authority. 

It was the religious orders that saved Eng- 
land from barbarism. Each monastery was 
a kind of impregnable city within which all 
the graces of civilization were fostered. Here 
learning, literature and art were diligently 
studied ; rich and poor, bondman and free, 
were welcomed as scholars if only they proved 
their ability to profit by the tuition. A 
certain number of manors were allotted to 
the Church, and this number was constantly 
being increased by royal or private benefac- 
tion. The tenants of ecclesiastical manors, 
more especially the villeins or serfs, were in 
these early times much better treated than 
those subject to the secular lords. The 
tenures were generally easy, labour customs 
could be commuted for a small sum of money, 
and the serfs could acquire freedom on very 
moderate terms. Enlightened forms of lease 
were introduced. 

The monks were the great agriculturists 
of the Middle Ages, and so were concerned in 
the maintenance of facilities for traffic. Apart 

16 Old Country Inns 

from this their one duty to the State was to 
satisfy the trinoda necessitas, particularly the 
care of roads and bridges. This was con- 
sidered a pious and meritorious duty often 
rewarded with special indulgences ; such 
undertakings were a work of mercy, in that 
they befriended the unfortunate traveller. 
The roads adjoining a monastic estate were 
usually kept in fair condition, as compared 
with those in other districts. The first 
London Bridge was built by the Prior of St. 
Mary Overie ; another great endowed bridge, 
that over the Medway at Rochester, owes its 
origin to the great St. Dunstan. Nearly all 
the picturesque gothic bridges which still 
survive were the work of the monks. Travel- 
ling was in many other ways directly fostered 
by the monasteries. Communications were 
constantly passing between the various houses 
of an order, many of which were on the Con- 
tinent. Authority for the election of a new 
abbot or a change in the statutes would have 
to be obtained from Rome. The two cen- 
turies after the Conquest witnessed a con- 
tinual rebuilding and beautifying of the Abbey 
Churches. Materials had to be brought from 
a distance, skilled artists engaged, rich plate, 
metal work, and ornate vestments procured 

Monastic Inns 17 

for the altar -service. All this was a great 
stimulus to trade. 

The doors of the monastery were open to all 
comers, and there were many reasons why 
hospitality would be sought at a religious 
house in preference to the manorial inn. 
Rich people resorted to them because of their 
comfort and security ; the poor because there 
was nothing to pay. No unpleasant ques- 
tions were likely to be asked ; so we find 
Quentin Durward (in the novel of Sir Walter 
Scott, which gives us such an excellent idea 
of the period he describes,) always avoiding 
the public inns and taking refuge at the 
monasteries in order to minimize the risk 
of his secret mission being betrayed. Most 
of these houses had been endowed by the 
king or nobles, and their descendants con- 
sidered themselves at home within the 

These noble guests, especially when they 
were accompanied by a miscellaneous retinue, 
were apt to be rather too roisterous and 
turbulent for the cloister. A statute of 
Edward I forbids anyone to lodge at a reli- 
gious house without the formal invitation of 
the Superior, unless he be the founder, and 
then he must conform closely to the rules and 

18 Old Country Inns 

regulations. The poor alone were to retain the 
right to the grace of hospitality free of charge. 
Numerous later statutes were enacted with 
the same end in view. The monks of Battle 
rebuilt their Guest House outside the Abbey 
Gate where it still remains a most beautiful 
example of fifteenth-century half-timber work. 
Long before this time, however, another 
expedient had been devised to cope with the 
increasing crowd of travellers needing rest 
and refreshment. 

Whenever we come across an inn bearing 
the sign of the Bull it is worth while to 
inquire whether there was formerly a religious 
house in the neighbourhood. We have exam- 
ined into the history of upwards of a hundred 
" Bulls/' and even where definite proof has 
not been forthcoming, the circumstantial 
evidence has always been sufficient to arouse 
suspicion. It is especially a common sign in 
connection with a nunnery. Thus the inns 
of this name at Dartford, Barking and Mailing, 
all three very ancient, belonged to the local 
abbeys. At Hythe, on the Medway, a manor 
of Mailing Abbey, there is a Bull Inn ; and 
another at Theale in Berkshire, which was the 
property of the prioress of Goring. Elfrida, 
the mother-in-law of Edward the Martyr, 

Monastic Inns 


founded a nunnery at Reading in expiation 
of the base murder of that prince. This 
nunnery was abolished owing to scandals in 
the twelfth century, but a Bull Inn still 
flourishes near the site of the Abbey Gate. 

The Bull, Sudbury 

At Newington, next Sittingbourne, the 
prioress was found strangled in her bed and 
the nuns were removed elsewhere, but the 
Bull remains as the chief inn to this day. 

In deeds of the fourteenth and fifteenth 
centuries relating to the Bull at Barking, 
this house is referred to as " tectum vel 

20 Old Country Inns 

hospitium vocatum le Bole." Bole is the old 
French equivalent of the Latin bulla, a seal 
from which it is clear that no bovine connec- 
tion is implied by the sign, but merely that 
the inn was licensed under the seal of the 
Abbey. Some antiquaries have suggested 
that such inns were tied houses where ale of 
monastic brewing was sold, reminding us 
of the current explanation of the xx and xxx 
marks on barrels of strong ale, as having been 
originally the seals guaranteeing the quality 
in the days when the monks were the leading 
brewers. It is true that the peculiar virtue 
of the wells at Burton-on-Trent was known 
at a very early period, and that the ale 
brewed in the local Abbey was an article of 
commerce when Richard I was king. Tied 
houses were not uncommon in the Middle 
Ages, witness the Bear Inn in Southwark, 
leased in 1319 by Thomas Drinkwater, wine 
merchant to James Beauflur, on condition 
that he purchased all his liquor from the said 
Thomas Drinkwater, who agreed to furnish 
all needful flagons, mugs, cutlery and linen. 
On the other hand, very few collegiate houses 
brewed ale beyond the needs of their own 
consumption, and we have not yet come 
across any lease binding their tenants. 

Monastic Inns 


Mention is often made of a brewhouse attached 
to the inn. As to the marks on the barrels 
a prosaic solution is that these are merely 
excise marks of the seventeenth century, 
when beer was taxed according to its strength. 
Whatever the terms of its original lease 

Pigeon House at the Bull, Long Melford 

may have been the Bull profited by monastic 
favour and protection to grow into a big and 
prosperous establishment. It is nearly always 
the leading hostelry of the town. Two centu- 
ries ago the Bull at St. Albans was described 
by Baskerville as the largest in England, 

22 Old Country Inns 

but with the decay of the coaching trade 
it has retired into private life. Mr. Jingle's 
recommendation of the Bull at Rochester, 
" Good house, nice beds/' might be fairly 
applied to nearly every Bull Inn of our 
acquaintance. The sign is a symbol of steady- 
going respectable old-fashioned ways, where 
comfort is not sacrificed to economy, and 
where the cellar and kitchen are alike irre- 
proachable. Any remnants of antiquity are 
concealed behind a broad Georgian fagade, 
for good business entails frequent rebuilding. 
The Bull at Barking is now to all appearance 
a quite modern hotel. Few would guess that 
its history could be traced for seven hundred 
years, and that twice during that time it has 
been occupied by a single family for more 
than a century. In 1636 it was sold to St. 
Margaret's Hospital in Westminster, for the 
sum of one shilling ; and therefore continues 
to be collegiate property. 

To avoid confusion we must remind the 
reader that the " Bull's Head " denotes the 
crest of the Nevilles or, occasionally, Anne 
Boleyn. The Pied Bull is a whimsical sign 
found near a cattle market or bull-ring. A 
few inns, too, received the name of the Bull 
in Elizabethan or Jacobean times when 

Monastic Inns 23 

astrology was popular, and Taurus happened 
to be the house ascendant in the horary 
figure. Thus in Ben Jonson's "Alchemist " : 

" A townsman born in Taurus given the bull, or the 
Bull's head ; in Aries the ram." 

Sometimes in place of the official seal the 
monastic inn bore for its sign a picture or 
carving of a religious mystery. Outside the 
Abbey Gate, at Bury St. Edmunds, is the 
Angel Inn, once called the Angelus or Saluta- 
tion ; there is another Angel Inn, probably 
monastic, in Guildford. Both of these are 
famous for their beautiful Early English 
crypts, groined and vaulted in stone. The 
Angel 3.t Grantham belonged to the Knights 
Templars. At Addington in Kent the Angel 
has a very odd staircase of great antiquity, 
each tread being a solid log of timber ; and 
an underground passage, which local gossip 
connects with a priory at Ryarsh. Another 
monastic Angel at Basingstoke is said to be 
the subject of Ben Jonson's coarse epigram, 
inspired by the departure of his hostess, 
Mrs. Hope and her daughter Prudence. The 
Cock as an emblem of St. Peter, and the 
Crosskeys are frequently found. The most 
interesting inn in the city of Westminster 
was the Cock and Tabard, in Tothill Street, 

a (2244) 

24 Old Country Inns 

pulled down in 1871. It dated from the 
reign of Edward III, and it was here, according 
to Stowe, that the workmen engaged in the 
completion of the Abbey Church were paid. 
From its yard two centuries later the first 
stage-coach to Oxford was started. Battle 
Abbey possessed several " Star " inns, the 
best known of which was the Star at Alfriston, 
which may either be named after Our Lady, 
Star of the Sea, or after the Earl of Sussex, 
one of whose badges was the star. 

Semi-religious signs such as the Angel, Star 
and Mitre are not always monastic, nor need 
they imply pre-reformation origin. The Angel 
at Islington is, comparatively speaking, a 
mushroom upstart. Under the sign of the 
Angel, Jacobs, a Jew, opened in 1650 one of 
the first coffee-houses in the parish of St. 
Peter, Oxford. A pious Roundhead might 
find chapter and verse for the sign and gloat 
over the conceit of entertaining an Angel- 
perhaps not unawares. Puritan sects have 
been known to give the official title of " Angel " 
to their itinerant preachers. The Cock Tavern, 
in Fleet Street, in spite of the splendid gilt 
chanticleer (generally attributed to Grinling 
Gibbons) has no connection with St. Peter. 
An advertisement, printed in the Intelligence 

Monastic Inns 25 

of 1665, shows that its old name was the 
Cock and Bottle. Cock is still used in some 
parts of the country for the spigot, or tap in 
a barrel ; and the sign was simply a short 
way of informing the bibulous that they 
could obtain here ale both on draught and in 

A monastic inn far exceeding in world-wide 
fame all others, is that Tabard Inn in the 
Borough, whence five hundred years ago 
thirty merry pilgrims set forth on a spring- 
tide morning on their three days' journey 
along the old Watling Street to Canterbury. 
The Tabard was a speculation of the Abbot 
of Hyde, Winchester, and no doubt a profit- 
able one, for its landlords were always men of 
character and substance who would attract 
guests of good class. Harry Bailey, Chaucer's 
friend, represented Southwark in two succes- 
sive parliaments , and another landlord, William 
Rutton, sat in Parliament for East Grinstead 
in 1529. Built in 1307, together with a 
hostel for the clergy of the monastery, it 
remained in much the same condition as 
when Chaucer sang its praises until about 
1602. The stone-coloured wooden gallery, in 
front of which hung a picture of the Canter- 
bury Pilgrimage, attributed to Blake, and the 

26 Old Country Inns 

so-called " Pilgrim's room " were probably 
of this period ; the rest was rebuilt after the 
great fire of Southwark, 1676. Twenty years 
ago all was demolished, and a gin-shop on its 
site of modern, vulgar red-brick mock gothic 
absurdly claims the title of " The Old Tabard" 

One religious order never attempted to 
divert the increasing stream of guests into 
the inns. With the Knights Hospitallers all 
comers were welcomed ; the entertainment 
of strangers remained their chief duty. The 
accounts of their house in Clerkenwell for the 
year 1337 show that they had spent more 
than their whole revenue at least 8,000, 
the reason being, as the prior explains, the 
hospitality given to strangers, members of 
the royal family and other grandees who all 
expected to be entertained in accordance 
with their rank. A noble would occasionally 
send his whole suite to the convent in order 
to save expense. The Knight monks finding 
no Paynim to demolish became an order of 
hotel -keepers, and travellers never failed to 
profit by the generous fare provided in their 
numerous establishments. 

At Dorking, when the Knights departed, 
the innkeeper took their place and continues 
to keep up the old traditions. The White 

28 Old Country Inns 

Cross is now the White Horse, though not 
from any similarity of names but because the 
Earls of Arundel, and afterwards the Dukes 
of Norfolk, were lords of the manor. In later 
life the White Horse was a famous coaching 
house, and rebuildings have apparently 
destroyed any feature older than say three 
centuries. Perhaps it was in the yard of 
this house, where a noble old vine spreads 
green fragrance over the great white gables, 
that Charles Dickens met the individual who 
sat for the portrait of Tony Weller. Deep 
underneath the building are a series of vaults 
cut out of the sandstone maybe a relic of 
the Hospitallers. In one of the lowest is a 
curious old well. Tradition has it that these 
cellars were used in the smuggling days. To 
lovers of the road the quaint gables and broad 
oriels of the White Horse are no mean land- 
mark, for they are the destination of a real 
old-fashioned coach and four running hither 
from Charing Cross daily during the summer 



MENTION of the Knights Hospitallers brings 
us by an easy stage to pilgrimages ; it was 
the original purpose of this order to keep 
open the route to the Holy Places and to 
assist the sick and needy pilgrims on their 
journey. Some pious merchants of Amalfi 
obtained permission to found a refuge for 
destitute pilgrims to the Holy Sepulchre at 
Jerusalem, about the middle of the eleventh 
century. At first the brethren of St. John 
were content with nursing the sick and 
relieving the hungry in the Jerusalem Hos- 
pice, and in this work of mercy earned the 
toleration of Saladin when he once more 
captured Jerusalem from the Christians. 
But at this time they had already taken to 
the sword and had become very active and 
trenchant members of the Church Militant. 
Rich in glowing romance and stirring 
adventure is the story of the pilgrimage to 
Jerusalem, and the many expeditions to 
regain possession of the Holy Land. We are 


30 Old Country Inns 

more concerned with the ordinary English- 
man. While the Crusade ensured the absence 
for a season of a goodly number of turbulent 
lords and truculent retainers, he was at 
liberty to visit the shrines of his own country. 
At Glastonbury was the chapel of St. Joseph 
of Arimathea and the sacred Thorn, as 
venerable as anything in Christendom. 
Hardly less ancient was the shrine of the first 
martyr, St. Alban ; while at Durham he might 
kneel in reverence before the relics of the 
great St. Cuthbert and the Venerable Bede. 
St. Ethelbert of Hereford and St. Edmund 
at Bury St. Edmunds would equally invite 
the suffrages of their clients. 

Pilgrimages played their part, and a very 
important one too, in the making of England. 
They gave the ordinary man an opportunity 
to travel. A subject race of stolid peasantry, 
who otherwise would never have left the 
confines of their lord's estate, were encouraged 
to go on a long journey and see what the 
world outside was like. If any man wished 
to go on a pilgrimage he needed only a scrip 
and staff consecrated by his parish priest. 
So furnished no lord could detain him. By 
virtue of his pious and meritorious vow he 
would find friends and assistance everywhere. 

The Hospices 31 

The most desperate characters would respect 
the sanctity of his profession if a robber 
found that his victim was a pilgrim he restored 
all that he had taken. 1 During his absence, 
any monastery was prepared to take charge 
of his affairs, nor could any legal proceedings 
be taken against him until his return. Pil- 
grimages were the thin end of the wedge 
which was destined to shatter the whole 
feudal system. They sowed the seeds of the 
great Revolt of the peasants under Richard 
II. They instilled into the heart of the 
people that roving restless spirit that made 
the Englishman the most successful coloniser 
the world has ever known. 

Under the very curfew the torch of liberty 
was smouldering. It is significant that nearly 
all the places of popular pilgrimage estab- 
lished between the eleventh and fourteenth 
centuries had a political basis. The figure 
of the last king of the old English stock 
stood out bright against the darkness of Eng- 
land, trodden under foot by the foreigner. 
Memories of peace, prosperity, and independ- 
ence gathered round his name, and while 
men were clamouring for the good laws of 
Edward the Confessor, throngs of pilgrims 

1 " Paston Letters," III, 304. 

32 Old Country Inns 

hastened to implore intercession of the Saint ; 
to-day his tomb in the Abbey of Westminster 
is the most hallowed spot for every true 
Englishman. A century later the scene of 
the martyrdom at Canterbury was attracting 
even vaster crowds, nearly one-tenth of the 
whole population of the country resorting 
hither for worship in a single year. We may 
well believe that they came to reverence 
St. Thomas of Canterbury, as not merely a 
devout ascetic, but as the first Commoner 
of English birth who dared to brave the 
absolute power of the King. 

There were several quite unauthorised pil- 
grimages of political origin. Thomas, Earl 
of Lancaster, who had headed the barons 
in their agitation against Edward II and the 
royal favourites, became, after his execution, 
a saint in popular estimation ; pilgrimages 
were organised to Pontefract as well as to 
a picture of the " Saint" set up in St. Paul's 
Cathedral in spite of royal protests. By a 
strange revulsion of sentiment the tomb of 
Edward II, himself one of the least desirable 
of kings, became a place of pilgrimage ; and 
a special inn had to be built at Gloucester to 
accommodate those who wished to make 
their prayers and vows on his behalf. The 

The Hospices 33 

good Simon de Montfort, although he died 
under excommunication, was accounted a 
saint ; and Latin hymns and versicles were 
composed for his office. 1 

Of all the devotional pilgrimages none 
could stand in comparison with Our Lady 
of Walsingham. It may be regarded as illus- 
trative of the English character that this 
shrine grew into notoriety, without any 
startling miracle, from simple and homely 
beginnings. A pious Norfolk lady caused a 
little wooden house to be built in imitation 
of the Holy House at Nazareth and invited 
her neighbours to join with her there in 
meditation on the mystery of the Immacu- 
late Conception. With time and a great 
concourse of pilgrims came an elaboration 
of legend and a variety of foreign acces- 
sories, maybe exaggerated in the half satirical 
description given by Erasmus. But when the 
true unvarnished story of Walsingham comes 
to be written it will show that to the very end 
a degree of sober good sense controlled the 
authorities there. 

In the fourteenth century pilgrimages had 
become the fashion for all classes. With 

1 See also J. J. Jusserand. " English Wayfaring Life," 
p. 342. 

34 Old Country Inns 

kings and nobles they were a ceremonial 
duty. The sick man went to regain his 
health and discovered it, maybe, on the breezy 
heath or sunny downs long before he reached 
the Shrine. The simple devout soul, no 
doubt, found in the restful minster the reli- 
gious consolation he came in search of. More 
worldly people enjoyed an inexpensive 
holiday. Merchants went on pilgrimages to 
avoid their creditors. During their absence 
an uncomfortable " slump " in business could 
be tided over. Chaucer half conveys a sly 
suggestion that this was the motive under- 
lying the presence of the merchant in the 
"Canterbury Tales " : 

" There wiste no wight that he was in debt." 
Workmen weary of a thankless task found a 
pretext in a pilgrimage for going off on the 
quest of a new master. An idle apprentice 
had an excuse ready at hand for exchanging 
the dull city workshop for a week in the 
Kentish orchards. A villein might succeed 
in reaching some distant town where he could 
live unbeknown by his lord for the necessary 
year and a day which meant permanent 
freedom. Statutes were passed over and 
over again to restrain these abuses, but they 
were all evaded. The pilgrimage was an 

The Hospices 35 

institution hallowed from time immemorial, 
and none could gainsay the right of every 
Christian man to take in hand his scrip and 

Imagine the motley procession almost 
ceaseless from morn till eve on the Roman 
roads to the North through St. Albans, East- 
ward to Canterbury, or Westward by Reading 
or Salisbury towards the favoured resort. 
Ladies of rank in their horse-litters or rich 
tapestried carriages ; peasants in their spring- 
less two- wheeled dog-carts. Then a company 
of middle -class people on horseback, all of 
them, men and women alike, well able to 
manage their steeds. The very poor travelled 
on foot, and many better class trod barefoot 
some portion of the Walsingham green way 
as a penitential exercise. Lame, halt and 
blind negotiated their journey as best they 
could. The pilgrim roads were fairly good ; 
Watling Street ran almost straight as an arrow 
as it was set out by the Roman engineers 
from Deptford to Canterbury. All roads 
were said to lead to Walsingham, and that 
through Ware and Newmarket, if not Roman, 
was nearly as direct. Pilgrims on horse- 
back from the West of England might utilize 
the so-called " Pilgrims' Way " to Canterbury, 

36 Old Country Inns 

but by the fourteenth century the 
Kentish portion had been broken up into a 
series of feeders to the Watling Street. A 
similar bridle path ran from Newmarket 
towards Fakenham on the Walsingham route. 

When night fell these wayfarers would tax 
all available resources for their shelter and 
sustenance. At the manor-house they were 
very unwelcome ; the lord had good cause 
to detest the idea of poor people going on 
pilgrimage. The monastery could only 
receive a small proportion. Many needed 
nursing as well as rest. And so a special 
form of lodging-house half inn, half charit- 
able institution had to be devised. The great 
Hospice at Jerusalem, which provided for 
fully a thousand visitors at one time, was 
regarded as the model, but the idea is much 
older. At Cebrero, in Northern Spain, there 
is a Hospicio Real, founded in 836 by King 
Alphonso II, for pilgrims crossing the pass of 
Piedrafita on the way from Segovia to St. 
James of Compostella. St. John's Hospital 
at Winchester claims to have been originally 
founded by St. Brinstan about the year 930 
for sick and poor pilgrims to St. S within. 

For the Canterbury pilgrims there were 
many of these hospices. That at Rochester, 

The Hospices 37 

a private benefaction, we have already men- 
tioned. The George Inn, which still can show 
a fine Early English crypt, may also be des- 
cribed as a pilgrims' inn, though, perhaps, 
like that at St. Albans, for the better class 
of people. There was a pilgrims' resting 
house at Bapchild, near Sittingbourne. Os- 
pringe, near Faversham, takes its name not 
from the spring which used to babble so 
pleasantly along the water lane, but from 
the great hospice founded by Henry III. 
By a similar " derangement of epitaphs " the 
hospice at Colnbrook has developed into the 
Ostrich Inn. A considerable portion of the 
hospice at Ospringe survives to this day in 
half-timbered buildings around the Crown Inn, 
and the chapel is said to form the foundations 
of the Ship Inn on the opposite side of the 
road. It is more likely that this inn stands 
on the site of the separate establishment 
provided for lepers. This hospice must have 
been of great extent and provided accommo- 
dation for rich and poor alike. A master 
and three regular brethren of the Order of 
the Holy Cross were to superintend the work 
of hospitality and nursing. Owing to an 
outbreak of the plague in the reign of Edward 
IV the brethren forsook the place in a panic 

38 Old Country Inns 

and died without taking care to choose 
their successors. The property escheated to 
the Crown ; hence the presence of the 
Crown Inn. 

Canterbury abounded in hospices of various 
kinds, some specially reserved for the poorer 
clergy. The fourteenth century fa$ade and 
vaulted lower storey of one of these still 
survives in the High Street. Originally estab- 
lished by St. Thomas himself, it was rebuilt 
by Archbishop Stratford, whose regulations 
provided that every pilgrim in health should 
have one night's lodging to the cost of four- 
pence (about five shillings in modern money) ; 
the weak and infirm were to be preferred to 
the hale, and women upwards of forty years 
were to attend to the bedding and administer 
medicaments to the sick. 

At Maidstone, there was a large hospice 
for pilgrims travelling to Canterbury by 
Mailing and Charing. St. Peter's Church was 
formerly the Chapel of this institution. At 
Reading the hospice was founded by Abbot 
Hugh about 1180 and dedicated to St. John 
the Baptist. A sisterhood of eight widows 
ministered to the wants of the pilgrims. We 
may mention also the hospitals of St. N Giles 
and St. Ethelbert at Hereford, both of 

The Hospices 39 

very ancient date. At the latter alms were 
distributed to a hundred poor people daily. 

Under the sign of the George Inn we can 
often detect the successor to a pilgrims' 
hostel dedicated to St. George of the Dragon. 
The George, at Glastonbury, the very finest 
existing example of an inn built in stone 
during the Perpendicular period, was founded 
by Abbot Selwood in 1489, and provided 
board and lodging to pilgrims free of charge 
for two days. The George at St. Albans, is 
more suggestive in its present state of a cosy 
well-ordered coaching inn of the Georgian 
period, with nothing visible of antiquity 
except its panelled staircase and beautiful 
old furniture. But its records carry us back 
to 1401, and in 1448 it received a licence 
from the Abbot for the celebration of low 
mass in the private chapel on account of the 
many noble and worthy personages who 
resorted thither when on pilgrimage to the 
Cathedral. At another George and Dragon 
hospice at Wymondham, the Saint has suc- 
cumbed to the reptile, and the Green Dragon 
presides alone on the signboard. 

Pilgrims to shrines beyond sea were not 
forgotten. At Dover the Maison Dieu was 
built and endowed by Hubert de Burgh, 

4 (8244) 

40 Old Country Inns 

the great Justiciary, in the reign of Edward 
III ; and on crossing to Calais the adventurer 
found another Maison Dieu, the first of a 
long chain of resting-places on the way to 
Rome, the Three Kings at Cologne, or Roca- 
madour, in Guyenne, according as his fancy 
or devotion might direct him. 



EVERY high road leads sooner or later to a 
market town, and in that town the tourist 
may be sure of finding a White Hart Inn. 
The White Hart is the commonest of signs all 
through England. Half-timbered and ram- 
bling, with the marks of decrepit old age and 
long service writ large all over it, this inn is 
in evidence near the market-place, often in 
a street of the same name, to remind us of 
its importance in the days gone by. Some- 
times, as at Guildford and Brent wood, the old 
building lies hidden behind a more modern 
front. When the builder has laid violent 
hands on a White Hart, title-deeds or other 
authentic records of its antiquity are in nearly 
every case available. 

A vague tradition attempts to explain 
these inns as royal posting-houses, it being 
supposed that stations to supply fresh horses 
for the royal journeys were first established 
during the last years of Edward III. Un- 
doubtedly the White Hart inns all date from 



Old Country Inns 

the beginning of the reign of Richard II. 
After the scandals and misrule during the 

The White Hart, Brentwood 

long dotage of his father, the nation centred 
all their hopes in the young king who showed 
promise of becoming a wise and able ruler. 

The Rise of the Towns 43 

The policy of the good Parliament would 
once more govern in the council, and it seemed 
a happy omen when he took for his badge 
the white stag with a collar of gold around 
his neck. This legend, portrayed on so many 
signboards, was a delight of the mediaeval 
romantic writers : the white hart was never 
to be taken alive except by one who had 
conquered the whole world. Its oldest form 
appears in the pages of Aristotle who relates 
how Diomedes consecrated a white stag to 
Diana ; and how it lived for a thousand years 
before it was killed by Agathocles, King of 
Sicily. Pliny gives Alexander the Great, and 
later writers Julius Caesar and Charlemagne, 
as the Emperors who captured the young 
white stag and released it after decorating 
it with the golden band. On the Dorchester 
road, near Stowminster, there used to be 
an inn with this kingly stag painted for a 
sign, and underneath the following lines 
translated from a mediaeval quatrain by 
some not very conscientious scholar who 
has imported Caesar, stag and all, into the 
West of England : 

." When Julius Caesar landed here, 
I was then a little deer, 
When Julius Caesar reigned King, 

44 Old Country Inns 

Round my neck he put this ring ; 
Whoever shall me overtake, 
Spare my life for Caesar's sake ! " 

But when we begin to inquire into the 
actual title-deeds of the White Hart inns, 
we find ourselves in the midst of movements 
of far deeper import than the outburst of 
national loyalty on the signboards. The 
story of a great mediaeval fiscal policy ; the 
birth of home manufactures ; the struggle 
of the towns for municipal rights. The sign 
of the White Hart marks a turning-point in 
the great social and industrial revolution 
which was to bring to the great body of 
Englishmen prosperity and freedom. 

No country could compare with England, 
during the Middle Ages, for the production 
of wool. From the twelfth century onwards 
wool was almost the only export and the 
principal source of wealth for landowners 
and farmers. So important a trade was 
bound to receive the attention of Chancellors 
in search of a new tax. Accordingly, early in 
the thirteenth century, a system was devised 
by which no wool could possibly be exported 
until it had contributed its quota to the royal 
treasury. Wool, as well as some other raw 
materials, such as skins, lead and tin, had to 

The Rise of the Towns 45 

be brought for sale to an appointed place 
called the Staple, where the trade was under 
the superintendence of a special corporation 
whose seal must appear on every bale. The 
Staple was at first fixed at Bruges, the chief 
seaport of the Flemish cloth manufacturer, 
but during the reign of Edward III, it was 
moved to England, and then finally, in 1390, 
established at Calais. Thither every dealer 
was obliged to carry his bales by certain 
approved routes, through Boston, London, 
Sandwich, Winchester, or Southampton, and 
these towns became subsidiary centres of the 
Staple. Staple Inn, in Holborn, was an inn 
for merchants of the Staple before it became 
a resort for the lawyers. In the end the 
merchants of the Staple grew into a ring of 
powerful monopolists, who controlled prices, 
regulated times of sale, and even secured the 
carrying trade in their own hands. The sale 
of English sheep abroad, either for breeding 
or for shearing, was also forbidden under very 
heavy penalties. 

All these vexatious formalities in getting 
his wool to Calais, and the rapacity of the 
merchants of the Staple, disgusted the English 
farmer. As early as 1258 Simon de Montfort 
urged that England ought to be a centre of 

46 Old Country Inns 

manufacture, and not merely a source of raw 
material. Edward III, while with one hand 
consolidating the power of the monopolists 
who controlled the Staple, on the other hand 
stimulated the obvious remedy. He invited 
Flemish weavers to settle in this country. 
By the end of his reign the whirring sound 
of the looms might be heard all through 
Norfolk, Essex and Kent. From a country 
of farmers which exported wool, England 
was soon to be transformed into a country 
of manufacturers who exported cloth. The 
sale of wool at the Staple dwindled away, 
while Yorkshire tweeds and Cotswold broad- 
cloths were winning the preference for price 
and quality in the most distant markets. 

The commercial prosperity of England is 
generally said to have been built up on the 
industries arising out of the woolpack. But 
in the fourteenth century capital was already 
being found for the development of many 
other enterprises. In 1307 there were com- 
plaints about London fog, owing to the use of 
coal as fuel. In the Sussex weald and the 
Forest of Dean the iron trade was so busy that 
it was necessary to import a considerable 
portion of the ore from Sweden and Spain. 
The excellence of English guns, it is said, 

The Rise of the Towns 47 

contributed largely to the victories of Henry V 
in France. 1 The lost art of brickmaking 
was reintroduced by the Flemings. Cheaper 
labour and materials induced copper-founders 
from Dinant and bell-founders from Liege 
to transfer their trades hither. Instead of 
bringing beer from Prussia the shipmasters 
found it more profitable to export Maidstone 
ales into Flanders. 

Meanwhile, the towns from a position of 
semi-servitude had been step by step attain- 
ing to liberty, wealth and the political 
franchise. London led the way owing to the 
presence of merchants from Rouen and Caen 
who settled there immediately after the Con- 
quest and took the position of a governing 
class prepared to treat with the King for 
privileges. The steps by which the various 
boroughs secured their rights of self-govern- 
ment, free speech in free meeting and equal 
justice would need several volumes to des- 
cribe. They were won by steady solid perse- 
verance, by customs allowed to grow up 
unnoticed during the quarrels between the 
barons and the royal favourites, by a direct 
bargain with the lord of the manor, or in a 

1 J. R. Green. " Town Life in the Fifteenth Century," 
I, 55. 

48 Old Country Inns 

few instances by less ingenuous methods. 
Most of the towns, like London, were situated 
on the royal demesne. With these the work 
was comparatively easy. Secure of his ulti- 
mate supremacy, and indifferent to small 
sources of power, the king was generally 
willing to surrender local claims for a fixed 
payment in money. A Corporation was a better 
security for the payment of dues than petty 
officers given to peculation. Accordingly, 
from the reign of Henry I, charters were granted 
giving a progressive degree of liberty, although 
until the reign of John the King retained 
the nomination of the portreeve or mayor. 

The feudal baron was not so willing to part 
with his supremacy. But the nobility were 
rapidly becoming poorer ; and the issue of the 
battle was ultimately with the strong. Either 
the powerful merchants' guild, returning un- 
wearied to the fray after each rebuff, by its 
steady dogged agitation ended in forcing a 
compromise, or else the traders deserted the 
place and let it dwindle away into a poverty- 
stricken village. Sometimes an ancient 
charter was alleged to exist and prescriptive 
rights claimed before a commission in the 
King's Courts ; and the longest purse could 
fee the most persistent counsel. 

The Rise of the Towns 49 

Much less hopeful were the prospects of 
citizens whose lord was a religious house. 
The monasteries were rich, well acquainted 
with forms of law, and as trustees not justified 
in parting with their hereditary assets. 
Hitherto promoters of progress, the monks 
now began, to be regarded as a stumbling- 
block on the path towards freedom. And 
from this arose the smouldering hatred of the 
monasteries that underlies so much of the 
literature of the fourteenth and fifteenth 
centuries. During the great revolt of the 
villeins the monasteries and bishops' palaces 
on the route of the insurgents were all burnt 
and sacked by the mob. At St. Albans, 
Cirencester, and even in the cinque port of 
Romney, the struggles of the townsfolk to 
burst their thraldom were endless and always 
futile. It was organised force in conflict 
with organised authority, and the result was 
that the latter prevailed. At Coventry the 
motto of the two contending bodies was 
divide et impera. The Merchant Guild became 
the Guild of the Holy Trinity and shared 
with the Corpus Christi Guild (of which the 
Prior and other Churchmen were members) 
all authority in the town, nominating the 
Mayor and all the important officials. 

50 Old Country Inns 

Simon de Montfort, " the father of English 
liberty," was the first to recognise the growing 
importance of the commercial middle classes 
by summoning two burgesses from each of 
the town boroughs to his Parliament in 1264, 
and their presence was treated as a matter of 
course in subsequent Parliaments, though 
they formed a comparatively insignificant 
factor. In the reign of Edward III, when the 
Knights of the Shire associated with them 
to form the future House of Commons, their 
growing wealth and ability to make terms 
with the King as a condition of granting 
supplies was recognised and a marked increase 
of parliamentary activity commenced. Their 
" petitions " became on the assent of the Crown 
Statutes of the Realm, and henceforward the 
Lower House was to initiate nearly all 

And now we can return to our White Hart 
inns. They were the first inns to be built by 
the corporations, or at least under their 
licence. Secure in the possession of their 
charter, proud of their ever-increasing com- 
merce, hopeful of the future privileges and 
reforms that were likely to be obtained by 
their burgesses in Parliament, the towns 
began to provide new inns of a superior kind 

The Rise of the Towns 51 

for the merchants who came regularly to their 
markets. They were held direct from the 
King, and to the reigning king alone they 
looked for any future marks of favour. Hence 
these inns almost invariably bear the badge 

The Swan, Felstead 

of the reigning king. When Richard II was 
deposed the White Hart gave place to the 
White Swan of Henry IV, and this latter is 
nearly as common on the signboards. Barons 
and earls might dispute and make war on 
one another as to who was the sovereign de 
jure ; the concern of the towns was with 
the king de facto. The Commons regarded 

52 Old Country Inns 

each change of dynasty from Plantagenet to 
red rose and from red rose to white rose 
with the complacency of the Vicar of Bray. 
The old aristocracy ruined themselves and 
died out amid these political disputes ; mean- 
while the burghers grew rich and their 
posterity formed the nucleus of a new aris- 
tocracy of English race and of more patriotic 

The signboards tell the same tale all 
through the fifteenth century. The Antelope 
of Henry VI, the White Lion of Edward IV, 
and the White Boar of Richard III each take 
their turn. The changes they represented 
meant little more than incidental gossip to 
the burghers. All the real life of the citizens 
was in their home and trade, in their craft 
guilds, in treaties with neighbouring towns, 
or in the little controversies of the town 

We know only a few incidental details 
about the internal comforts of the White 
Hart inns. The majority of the guests 
slept in large rooms, on couches or wooden 
bedsteads. Only a few very important gran- 
dees were accorded a private camera. The 
bed was a long sack -like mattress stuffed 
with straw or hay ; great folk would carry 

The Rise of the Towns 53 

with them their own bed on their journeys. 
Most people lay in their ordinary clothes on 
the bed, though counterpanes and linen were 
just coming into use. Carpets were chiefly 
employed like tapestry for hanging on the 
walls and diminishing the continual draughts. 
The women had their special apartments ; 
the serving men slept on the rushes of the 
hall, while the grooms were left to make the 
best of stable and barn. Meals were taken 
at fixed hours, at a long movable table on tres- 
tles in the hall, guests and servants sitting 
down together, but placed according to rank. 
Some of the dishes would not commend 
themselves to fastidious moderns, but at 
least, there was never any lack of good 
wholesome fare ; loaves, joints and meat 
pasties all on a gargantuan scale. Wines 
of British as well as foreign extraction 
competed with the nut brown ale. Essex 
was in those days the vineyard of England. 
How much we have fallen off in the 
capacity of our stomachs from the good 
old times of open-air life and daily exercise 
on horseback may be judged from the 
following allowance of provisions granted 
to Lady Lucy, one of the maids of honour 
to Queen Katherine of Aragon : 

54 Old Country Inns 

" Breakfast A chine of beef, a loaf, a gallon of ale. 
Luncheon Bread and a gallon of ale. 
Dinner A piece of boiled beef, a slice of roast meat, 

a gallon of ale. 
Supper Porridge, mutton, a loaf, and a gallon of ale." 

When the Warden of Merton College 
travelled with two of his fellows and four 
servants from Oxford to Durham in 1331, 
the season being winter, their average bill 
was 2d. for beds for the whole party, or for 
the servants alone, one halfpenny ; at the 
town inns of fifty years later the price of a 
bed was one penny, and the increased com- 
fort warranted the higher charge. 1 The 
private rooms, instead of being numbered, 
received names according to the subject 
portrayed on the tapestry hangings. This 
custom continued in old-fashioned inns up 
to quite recent times, and has served as the 
basis of stage humour of a sort : 
SCENE. A Country Inn. 

Timothy. What rooms have you disengaged, Waiter ? 

Waiter . Why sir, there's the Moon : but I forget 
there's a man in that. 

Timothy. Eh ! A man in the Moon ! Oh then we'll 
not go there. 

Waiter. There's the Waterloo Subscription, Sir ; that's 
full there's the Pope's Head; that's empty, etc., etc. 2 

1 At the George Inn, Winchester, in Elizabeth's reign, the charge 
for a feather bed for one night was one penny ; for a dinner of 
" Beef, mutton, or pigge," sixpence. 
1 "All at Coventry." By W. T. Montcrieff. 

The Rise of the Towns 55 

In the minute books of the Grey Coat 
Hospital, a very valuable religious educa- 
tional charity, we come across a rather 
startling entry. On Epiphany, 1698, 
" After prayers and sermon in church, the 
children and their parents dined in Hell." 
Heaven and Hell were two public dining 
rooms adjoining the old Palace of West- 
minster, and so named either from the 
hangings or other pictorial decoration. 

3 (8844) 



OF the writing of books about the mediaeval 
guilds there seems to be no end, and each 
new contribution serves to mystify rather 
than to throw light on the difficulties of the 
subject. From the earliest times, it was 
an inherent tendency of the Teutonic races 
to combine and form guilds. There were 
guilds for the building of bridges, for the 
relief of poor pilgrims, and for almost every 
imaginable purpose, ranging from the organisa- 
tion of a municipality to the Saxon " frith- 
gild," which undertook the punishment of 
thieves and the exacting of compensation 
for homicides. As to the craft guilds of the 
Middle Ages, some are content to regard 
them as trade unions, others as similar to 
our modern clubs, and a third class of writers 
assert that they were purely religious. As a 
matter of fact, they were capable of becoming 
all three in turn. 

No doubt the original motive of these 
guilds was to create a monopoly and artificial 


The Graft Guilds and Traders 1 Inns 57 

control over the particular trade, and also 
to obtain that security which only an organ- 
ised association is able to give against tyranny 
and corruption. They comprised all ranks, 
wage-earners, manufacturers, and merchants. 
The weakness of such a body was that there 
was no community of interests as regards 
the internal economy of the industry. That 
is to say, the merchants and masters would 
not be induced to improve the position of 
their apprentices or to raise the wages of 
journeymen. The only common ground 
would lie in attempts to assert the interests 
of the trade at large against the whole body 
of consumers, or against competing trades. 
On the other hand, the Corporation itself 
was originally a guild which had succeeded 
in obtaining a charter and thus becoming 
the administrative authority. It would 
regard with anxiety the creation of other 
bodies which might follow in its footsteps 
and become very dangerous rivals. Charters, 
indeed, were in the twelfth century being 
bought from the King, which rendered fra- 
ternities dependent for their existence on 
the royal will alone. The weavers of London 
lived in a quarter by themselves, with their 
own courts and raised their own taxes, 

58 Old Country Inns 

suffering no intrusion from the City officials. 
Only by an expensive process of boycotting 
was this abuse brought to an end. When 
once the municipalities perceived their 
danger, they proceeded ruthlessly to reduce 
the craft guilds into subjection and to limit 
the purposes for which they were permitted 
to combine. 

And this brings us to the second period 
in the history of the craft guilds, when we 
find each trade forming itself into an associa- 
tion to provide a burial fund for its deceased 
members, masses for the repose of their 
souls, and to organise a solemn procession 
and miracle play on the annual festival. 
Behind the religious association the union 
for trade purposes remained. When the 
secular powers of the craft guild were more 
clearly defined, in the fifteenth century, 
under the style of a company, the observance 
of the mystery was often allowed to fall into 
desuetude. The Companies became mere 
trustees of the endowments belonging to 
the religious guilds and treated with equani- 
mity the abolition of these trusts at the 

In the third period the craft guilds as 
Companies became a useful adjunct of the 

The Graft Guilds and Traders' Inns 59 

Corporation, protecting the community from 
overcharges, settling disputes in the trade, 
and generally forming courts of reference 
on technical matters. The City companies 
of to-day, though not under any compulsion 
to do so, still occasionally render service 
of a kindred nature. The work of the 
Plumbers' Company, a few years ago, in 
arranging for the examination and regis- 
tration of plumbers will be called to mind ; 
the Apothecaries' Company has also done 
good service. Out of the guilds of the Holy 
Trinity at Hull and at Deptford has grown 
the Corporation of Trinity House, that 
wealthy philanthropic body that builds light- 
houses, licenses pilots, and ministers in 
various ways to the welfare of our merchant 

At Headcorn and Cranbrook, in the Weald 
of Kent, and again at Lavenham and Sudbury, 
in Suffolk, may be seen many beautiful 
examples of the halls of the craft guilds 
now derelict and converted to less noble 
purposes. Part of the King's Head at Ayles- 
bury is supposed by experts to have been 
anciently a Guildhall. We shall refer more 
fully to this building in another chapter* 

We have seen that the guilds afforded 

60 Old Country Inns 

very few advantages to the wage-earners, 
and according to the natural tendency of 
all such bodies, they ended in becoming 
aristocratic and exclusive. They were for 
a long period masters of the labour of 
the country, preventing any attempts at 
strikes, and securing that all disputes as to 
the rate of pay should be settled by the 
arbitration of their own warden. Vainly 
the serving -men of the Saddlers strove to 
form a guild of their own on the harmless 
pattern of a religious body with their own 
festival at Our Lady of Stratford-le-Bow. 
It was complained of them that in thirteen 
years their hire had more than doubled the 
ordinary rate, and their meetings were ruth- 
lessly repressed. The May-Day festival of 
the Journeymen Shearers in Shrewsbury 
was suppressed for a similar reason. 1 

Only one refuge remained for the oppressed 
/ workmen the inn, which for centuries was 
to be the place where he could hold these 
more or less illegal meetings with his com- 
rades. In the houses of call for artisans, 
the workers discussed their grievances, 
hatched conspiracies and strikes, or devised 

1 Green. " Town Life in the Fifteenth Century," 
II, 126. 

The Graft Guilds and Traders' Inns 61 

less drastic methods for the betterment of 
their condition. At Kidderminster there is an 
inn called The Holy Blaise, after the patron 
of weavers ; another, Bishop Blaise, exists in 
the heart of the City of London in New Inn 
Yard. The Boar's Head, by the way, was 
a commonly accepted emblem of St. Blaise. 

Bricklayers' Arms, Caxton 

Many St. Crispins or Jolly Crispins survive 
to represent the shoemaker. St. Hugh was 
another patron of the shoe trade, and there 
was once a St. Hugh's Bones in Clare Market. 
Simon the Tanner is an old house in Long 

62 Old Country Inns 

Lane, Bermondsey. A later age absurdly re- 
named inns frequented by the labouring class 
as The Weavers' Arms, Carpenters' Arms, 
Bricklayers' Arms, etc., etc. These inns, a 
common occurrence in every large town, are 
often of old foundation, and incidentally 
commemorate the fact that in the public- 
house it was that the wage-earners first learnt 
the art of combination for their own better- 
ment. Here the earliest trade unions found 
a welcome and a home, with which many of 
their successors are still content. The club 
room at the inn was the cradle of the Friendly 
Societies. The Freemasons have given name 
to a whole series of taverns. All the numer- 
ous and generally well managed benefit 
Societies on the pattern of the Foresters, 
Hearts of Oak and Oddfellows owe their very 
existence to the public-house. 

It was anciently the custom for workmen to 
be paid at the nearest inn, and out of this, 
during the bad period at the beginning of the 
nineteenth century grew a very serious abuse. 
Those to whom was entrusted the duty of 
engaging and paying various forms of pre- 
carious and unskilled labour, such as coal 
whippers and porters, found it profitable to 
become owners of public-houses where the 

The Craft Guilds and Traders 1 Inns 63 

unfortunate men were kept waiting for a job 
which was generally awarded to the individual 
whose score was the largest. When the men 
returned from their work they were expected 
to spend a considerable portion of their earn- 
ings for the good of the house. The Truck 
Act of 1843 put an end to this heartless 

The Woolpack and Fleece were, of course, 

Golden Fleece, South Weald 

the signs of inns frequented by the merchants 
who came to buy wool. At Guildford all the 
alehouses were at one time required to exhibit 

64 Old Country Inns 

a Woolpack as a token of the leading com- 
modity in the town. There is a very fine old 
Golden Fleece Inn at South Weald in Essex, 
broad-fronted and roomy, Jacobean in style, 
but fallen sadly from its old estate since the 
coach traffic ceased on the Ipswich road. 

The Three Kings was anciently the sign of 
the mercers, because in the Middle Ages linen 
thread materials brought from Cologne had 
the highest reputation, and were probably 
stamped either with the figures of the three 
wise men, or with three crowns. But the 
Three Crowns are asserted to be more com- 
monly emblematic of the three kingdoms of 
England, Scotland and Ireland. The Golden 
Ball was another mercers' sign, from the arms 
of Constantinople, which was formerly the 
centre of the silk trade. The Elephant and 
Castle was the crest of the Cutlers' Company. 
However, the Elephant and Castle, at the 
corner of Newington Causeway, has a quite 
different origin. The skeleton of an elephant 
was discovered while digging a gravel-pit near 
this spot in 1714. Elephants in mediaeval 
heraldry were invariably represented as carry- 
ing a solidly-built castle, a traveller's exagger- 
ation of the Indian palanquin. The Lion and 
Castle indicated a dealer in Spanish wines, 

The Graft Guilds and Traders 1 Inns 65 

because sherry casks were stamped with the 
brand of the Spanish arms. 

Foresters resorted for company to the Green 
Man, and the survival of many old taverns 
of that name reminds us that there were 
numerous forests in the neighbourhood of 
London. The Northwood, or Norwood, ex- 
tended from near the Green Man at Dulwich 
to Croydon, where there is another Green Man 
Inn. The Green Man at Leytonstone stands 
on the verge of Epping Forest. Wherever 
a painted sign exists on one of these houses it 
generally represents either an archer or a 
forester clad in Lincoln green. 

The Two Brewers does not denote that the 
ale of the two rival tradesmen is on sale, but 
the manner in which beer was anciently 
carried about before the invention of brewers' 
drays. Two porters are shown bearing the 
precious barrel slung between them on a poles 

Last of all to be mentioned among the inn . 
which remind us of disappearing occupations 
are those found usually where the ancient 
green ways join the main roads to London. 
The drover and his herd of tired wild-eyed 
cattle is no longer a feature on the roadside. 
It is cheaper and more convenient to send 
oxen to market by cattle-train. But the long 

66 Old Country Inns 

green lanes, touching here and there a market 
town, extend through the Eastern and Midland 
counties, right up to the North of England. 
Lonely and deserted, practicable only by the 
pedestrian or the rider of a sure-footed pony, 
scarcely ever used except by the county 
officials, whose duty it is to maintain the 
right of way, they remain as an ideal hunting 
ground for the naturalist. When the explorer, 
tired and hungry after many miles of rough 
journeying, finds shelter at the Drover's Call, 
Butcher's Arms, or Jolly Drovers, the purpose 
of these old half-forgotten by-roads is made 
clear to him, and he can meditate during his 
hour of rest on the changes which fifty years 
have made in the methods of transport. 



Porch, Chalk Church, Kent 



WE had occasion a year or two ago to visit 
a small country town where several public- 
houses were scheduled previous to being closed 
under the Licensing Act. It was impossible 
to defend the continuance of the licences. 
The high road which ran through the lower 
part of the town was well provided with inns 
for the passing traveller. These condemned 
inns, nine or ten in number, were all in a side 
street leading to the church at the top of the 
hill. We inquired of a local antiquary, an 
enthusiast on the subject of inns, whether he 
could account for the existence of so many 
in a situation apparently ill-adapted for a 
prosperous trade, and received a surprising 

" They loved God in those days/ 1 muttered 
the old gentleman, with a sigh of regret, " and 
loving God each man loved his brother also. 
In the church they learnt the mysteries of 
the Kingdom of Heaven ; the public-house 
gave them the opportunity of realising the 


68 Old Country Iniis 

Kingdom of Heaven in the practice of 
brotherly love. It is a survival of the early 
Christian Agape. ' Exercise hospitality one 
to another/ says the Apostle for this is the 
full meaning of Trpoa-\a^dvecrOai in Romans 
xv, 7. In the good old days men did not 
go into a public-house to drown their wits in 
gin, but to buy each other good wholesome 
ale in Christian fellowship. And as every 
man went to church of course, there had to 
be many alehouses ! >J 

We have since discovered a less picturesque 
though much more plausible origin of these 
superfluous inns which will be given in an- 
other chapter. Nevertheless, allowing for our 
good friend's flamboyant enthusiasm, there 
is an element of truth in his contention. 
Wherever there is a church we may be certain 
of finding an old inn hard by. In pre- 
reformation times the Church, while not 
exactly countenancing the alehouse, looked 
not sourly on drinking customs when indulged 
in with discretion. The training of the char- 
acter in self-restraint is a great ideal of the 
Catholic Church. The alternation of festival 
and fast is one integral feature of the process. 
Fasting alone is insufficient. Continual absti- 
nence results in self -mutilation ; the appetite 

Church Inns and Church Ales 69 

is merely distorted thereby. It is a great 
secret of the higher life that where there is 
no temptation there can be no victory. And 
so the Church enjoined on our forefathers the 
duty of feasting heartily and fasting con- 
scientiously each in their due season. A 
great doctor of the Church gave the maxim 
that to be fasting after the fifth hour of a 
holy-day was to be ipso facto excommunicate. 
Before inns became common the parish 
clergy were expected to entertain travellers. 
It must be borne in mind that until the 
thirteenth century many of the secular priests 
were married men. The Rolls of Parliament 
for 1379 contain a complaint that owing to the 
non-residence of the clergy this duty of 
affording shelter to benighted wayfarers was 
in danger of lapsing. In our own boyhood 
it was still the traditional custom for travellers 
in remote districts to put up at the rectory, 
and this may help to account for the un- 
necessary size of rectories in sparsely popu- 
lated country parishes. But obviously the 
unmarried priest of the fifteenth century 
found it more convenient to all parties when 
an inn was built on his glebe, where it would 
be more or less under his control, and he could 
be answerable for its good conduct. 

70 Old Country Inns 

Again, parishioners from outlying districts 
were expected on high festivals to attend 
morning and afternoon services at their 
mother church. In licensing a chapel at 
Smallhythe in 1509 " on account of the bad- 
ness of the roads and the dangers which the 
inhabitants underwent from the waters being 
out/' Archbishop Warham was careful to 
stipulate that the people of Smallhythe were 
not thereby released from their duties at the 
parish church of Tenterden. Some accom- 
modation was necessary where those coming 
from a distance could rest and have their 
midday meal during the interval between 
High Mass and Vespers. At Lurgashall, in 
Sussex, there is a very ancient closed porch of 
wood extending the whole length of the South 
aisle which local tradition declares to have 
been built for this express purpose. Perhaps 
also the large parvise to the west of the tower 
at Boxley, like in form to the antechapels in 
the colleges at Oxford and Cambridge, was a 
shelter of this kind. Mr. Baring-Gould thinks 
that the deep porches in the French cathe- 
drals were intended to shelter the peasants 
during the midday hours. But by the 
fifteenth century the increase in the standard 
of comfort would demand an inn, rather 

Church Inns and Church Ales 71 

than these exposed and draughty places for 

Church Ales were a special institution of the 
mediaeval Church to the intent that no par- 
ishioner by reason of poverty should lack the 
means of feasting to his heart's content on the 
greater holy-days ; all were to assemble and 
make merry together. " In every parish/ 1 
says Aubrey, in the introduction to his 
" Natural History of Wiltshire/* there was a 
Church House, to which belonged spits, 
crocks, and other utensils for dressing provi- 
sions. Here the housekeepers met. The young 
people were there, too, and had dancing, 
bowling, shooting at butts, etc., the ancients 
sitting gravely by and looking on. All things 
were civil and without scandal/' Whitsun- 
tide was the great feast of early summer before 
haymaking began, and so these feasts were 
popularly known as Whitsun-Ales, but Easter 
and Christmas were not forgotten. From an 
old Breton legend we learn incidentally that 
it was customary for the three masses of Christ- 
mas to be said consecutively by anticipa- 
tion, after which all adjourned for a gorgeous 
feast in the neighbouring Church House. 
Sometimes two parishes united for the cele- 
bration of the Church Ale. In Dods worth's 


Old Country Inns 

manuscripts there is an old indenture 
preserved, an agreement between the parish- 
ioners of Elveston and Okebrook, in Derby- 

Church House, Penshurst 

shire, to brew four ales, and every ale of one 
quarter of malt between Easter and the feast 
of St. John the Baptist ; every inhabitant 

Church Inns and Church Ales 73 

of the two parishes to attend the several 
ales. Charitable folks bequeathed funds for 
the maintenance of these parish banquets on 
particular festivals. 

Just above the western door of Chalk 
Church, near Gravesend, squats carved in 
stone a grotesque goblin figure, cross-legged 
and grinning with a most jovial expression as 
he grasps a flagon of ale. Charles Dickens in 
his latter years never omitted to stop and 
have greeting with this comical old monster. 
Now, this sculpture commemorates a give ale, 
bequeathed by William May, in 1512, that 
there should be " every year for his soull, 
an obit, and to make in bread six bushells of 
wheat, and in drink ten bushells of malt, and 
in cheese twenty pence, to give to poor people 
for the health of his soull." 

After the Reformation the Church Ales 
were continued, chiefly in order that the 
Churchwardens might by the sale of the 
liquor secure funds for the repair of the fabric. 
"There were no rates for the poor in my 
grandfather's days/' says Aubrey. " But for 
Kingston St. Michael (no small parish) the 
Church Ale of Whitsuntide did the business *" 
Abuses rapidly crept in. Stubbs, the author 
of the " Anatomie of Abuses/' complains in 


Old Country Inns 

1583, that the ales were kept up for six weeks 
on end, or even longer. In the West of Eng- 
land instances are related of the South aisle 
of the church being filled with beer casks and 
men busy supplying all comers. The sale 

The Punch Bowl, High Easter 
of liquor went on during morning service 
greatly to the disturbance of the officiating 
minister. Bishops' injunctions, ecclesiastical 
canons, and orders of the justices fulminated 
vainly against the degenerated Church Ales. 
Not till the time of the Commonwealth were 
they finally abolished. 

Church Inns and Church Ales 75 

Bishop Hobhouse traces the growth of the 
Church House into a regular tavern at Tintin- 
hull in Somersetshire. First , there was a 
small bakehouse for the making of the pain 
benit. In time this had developed into a 
bakery supplying the whole neighbourhood 
with bread. From brewing ale for Church 
festivals, the brewhouse undertook the 
regular sale of malt liquor ; and it was a very 
profitable business for the churchwardens; 
so that municipal trading was not quite 
unknown in the olden time. 

The only examples of an undoubted Church 
House that we have come across are the 
" Church Loft " at West Wycombe, in Bucks, 
and the exquisite half-timbered building 
over the Lych Gate at Penshurst. The 
Castle Inn at Hurst, in Berkshire, is tradi- 
tionally known as the Church House. The 
bowling-green behind this inn is one of the 
best in England and of great antiquity. 
There are many inns and other old houses 
near churchyards which probably began their 
career as Church Houses ; the half-timbered 
" Priest house " at Langdon, in Essex, and the 
long plastered and tiled tudor structure over 
the porch at Felstead, opposite the Swan Inn, 
and formerly used as the Grammar School, 


Old Country Inns 

may both be of this category. The Punch 
Bowl at High Easter is actually in the church- 
yard ; its interior framing a marvellous 
piece of joinery and the richly-moulded 
beams show it to have been built at the same 


The Punch Bowl, High Easter 

time as part of the church, perhaps by the 
same craftsmen. By the way, Mr. James 
Stokes, the landlord for many years of the 
Punch Bowl y a worthy, good-hearted man, 
was in size the nearest rival of Daniel Lambert 
we ever met. His huge proportions were not 
by any means due to indolent habits. He 

Church Inns and Church Ales 77 

was a thatcher by trade, and noted in the 
district for his activity and skill. 

In the absence of documents it is not easy 
to discriminate between the Church Inn and 
the Church House. Old inns near the church 
bearing ecclesiastical names may be of either 
origin, or may have served for both. The 
Bell is very common all over England. It is 
always found near the church, and the sign is 
of the highest antiquity. Chaucer tells us 
that the Tabard in Southwark was " juste by 
the Belle." The Bell at Finedon,in North- 
amptonshire, puts in a claim to be one of the 
very oldest in the country, and the old Bell 
Tavern which formerly stood in King Street, 
Westminster, is mentioned in the expenses 
of Sir John Howard, Jockey of Norfolk, in 
1466. At the Bell, in Warwick Lane, died 
the good Archbishop Leighton in 1684. " He 
often used to say that if he were to choose a 
place to die in, it should be an inn ; it looks 
like a pilgrim's going home, to whom this 
world was all as an inn, and who was weary 
of the noise and confusion in it . . . . And 
he obtained what he desired." 1 

Not unusual in this situation is a Lamb Inn. 
The Lamb at Eastbourne has a small but 

1 " Burnet's Own Times," II, 426. 

78 Old Country Inns 

well-proportioned crypt, vaulted and groined. 
There is a Lamb and Flag near the old parish 
church at Brighton, Sudbury, and at Swindon ; 
and a Lamb and Anchor in Bristol. These 
owe their origin to a carving of the Agnus Dei, 
but may sometimes point to a house of the 
Knights Templars, for the Agnus Dei appeared 
on their coat of arms. The Bleeding Heart 
is an emblem of the five sorrowful mysteries 
of the Rosary, and the Heart, generally found 
as the Golden Heart, is in honour of the Blessed 
Virgin. The Anchor is suggestive of a church 
inn, but we have not been able to trace a 
house bearing this sign to any very remote 
period. At Hartfield, there is an Anchor Inn 
close to the church, evidently ancient, and 
having a delightful old-fashioned garden. It 
was formerly occupied by a church institution 
where the poor were fed and housed in return 
for such labour as their age and skill would 
permit, founded by the Rev. Richard Randes, 
a rector of the parish some two hundred and 
fifty years ago. The house contains evidence 
of having existed long before this date. 

At least one church has, by the vicissitudes 
of time, become an inn ; the George Hotel at 
Huntingdon, itself very old and picturesque, 
enshrines in its cellars and lower walls all that 

Church Inns and Church Ales 79 

is left of St. George's Church. The stones of 
St. Benedict's Church in the same town were 
used two centuries ago in building the Barley 
Mow Inn at Hartford, and some figures 
and panelling may be seen in the tap-room 
of the Queen's Head, close by where this 
church stood. At the Old Red House, about 
four miles north of Newmarket on the road 
to Brandon, the bar-counter is formed out 
of the rood-screen turned out of the neigh- 
bouring church at a " Restoration " about 
five-and -twenty years ago. 

In a corner of Romford churchyard a 
fifteenth-century chantry-house, founded by 
Avery Comburgh, Squire of the Body to 
Henry VI, and Under-Treasurer to Henry VII, 
became after the Reformation the Cock and 
Bell Inn. Through the kindness of Messrs. 
Ind, Coope & Co., the present Bishop of 
Colchester was enabled to regain possession 
for religious uses, and after three hundred 
and sixty years of alienation this building, 
still possessing its original oak ceiling beams 
and panelling has been converted into a 
Church House for the parish, and a hall for 
meetings, corresponding in style, has now 
been added from the design of Sir Charles 
Nicholson, Bart. 

80 Old Country Inns 

Among the pleasantest memories of a 
pilgrimage to Walsingham, is that of a Sunday 
spent at a little Suffolk village, where after 
service Pastor and flock alike adjourned to 
our inn for a half an hour's gossip. The old 
custom would be difficult to restore nowadays, 
but much of the social influence of the Church 
over the labouring classes was lost when 
rectors left off occupying, at least once a week, 
the chair in the village inn parlour. For it 
is not without good reason that church and 
inn stand so frequently side by side. Each 
ministers alike to the natural and common 
needs of man, and each in its own way has 
its lesson to teach us in the gospel of the 
larger life. They have stood together 
through the ages as a protest against the 
wayward theories of man-made puritanism; 
for they belong to the Commandment which 
is "exceeding broad/' 



A HUNDRED years ago, everybody who had 
occasion for inland travelling was perforce 
obliged to use the road ; that is, unless he 
preferred a canal boat or barge, and navigable 
waters lay in the desired direction. Rich 
people travelled in their private carriage with 
four horses which were changed every few 
miles at the posting-houses. Those without 
means had to content themselves with carriers' 
carts or the stage broad-wheeled waggons ; a 
few resorted to dog-carts, then a tiny four- 
wheeled contrivance actually drawn by dogs. 
But the great majority of passengers were 
conveyed in the coaches or mails. In 1825 
it was calculated that no less than 10,000 
persons were daily on the road in mail-coaches, 
so closely timed that if a driver were to be 
ten minutes late in arriving at an important 
centre many corresponding services would be 
seriously upset. The average speed, allowing 
for changing horses, was about ten miles an 
hour on the fast day coaches. 


82 Old Country Inns 

All this vast organisation had grown up 
since the time of Queen Elizabeth, when the 
coach was introduced from France by Fitz- 
Alan, Earl of Arundel. Only in her old age 
would this queen leave her horse for the 
effeminate conveyance, and the Judges con- 
tinued to ride on horseback to Westminster 
Hall, almost until the Restoration. In the 
year 1672, when there were only six stage- 
coaches in daily running, a Mr. John Cresset, 
of the Charterhouse, published a pamphlet 
urging their suppression on the ground that 
' These stage-coaches make gentlemen come 
to London on every small occasion, which 
otherwise they would not do, but upon 
urgent necessity ; nay the convenience of 
the passage makes their wives often come up, 
who rather than come such long journeys on 
horseback would stay at home. Then, when 
they come to town, they must presently be 
in the mode, get fine clothes, go to plays and 
treats, and by these means get such a habit 
of idleness and love of pleasure, as to make 
them uneasy ever after/' 

The coaches started on their journey each 
morning and evening from great inn yards 
surrounded by tiers of galleries one above 
the other. Sometimes, as at the Bull and 

Coaching Inns 83 

Mouth in St. Martins le Grand, or the Oxford 
Arms in Warwick Lane, there were four 
stories of these galleries. It is not easy to 
trace the various steps by which the plan of 
the coaching inn was evolved from the 
" corrall " of migrating tribes, who when rest- 
ing for the night arranged their waggons 
in a hollow square, with their cattle in the 
centre. But the idea underlying the coaching 
inn was a species of fortress entered only by 
the great archway with massive doors strongly 
barred at closing time. The bedchambers of 
the guests all opened into the galleries over- 
looking the yard. When an alarm was raised 
each owner of waggons or cattle in the yard 
could at once hurry out to the defence of his 
property. Later on, the traveller would be 
bound to hear the note of the guard's horn, 
warning him that the coach in which he had 
booked a place was preparing to start. 

" Heads, heads, take care of your heads ! " 
is the cry as the Pickwick Club pass on the 
top of the Rochester coach through the low 
inn archway. " Terrible place dangerous 
work other day five children mother 
tall lady eating sandwiches forgot the arch 
crash knock children look round 
mother's head off sandwich in her hand 

Yard of White Hart, St. Albans 

Coaching Inns 85 

no mouth to put it in head of a family off 
shocking, shocking ! l3 And it was no inven- 
tion of the ingenious Mr. Jingle for the 
accident actually happened at the White Hart 
at St. Albans. 

Just as the coaching system had reached 
its highest perfection, the railway came and 
the coach vanished more suddenly than the 
horse vehicle has disappeared from the Strand 
with the advent of the taxi-cab and motor 
omnibus. The landlord of the coaching inn 
and the posting-house found his occupation 
gone almost as abruptly as the guard and 
driver. Gone are all the coaching inns of 
London, although their names survive as 
receiving offices of the railway carriers. In 
country towns on the main roads, like Sitting- 
bourne or Godalming, huge forlorn wrecks 
present their face to the roads converted 
into shops or tenements. Some of them con- 
tinue to maintain a precarious existence in 
country villages like Buckden in Huntingdon- 
shire, scarcely visited by the traveller of 
to-day, whereas seventy years ago their vast 
size was often insufficient to accommodate 
the daily arrivals of guests. They linger on 
in the hope that motorists may bring them 
a new popularity. Others, tired of empty 


Old Country Inns 

rooms and dwindling local trade have retired 
into private life. At Caxton, on the old 
North Road, the George, a very large inn of 
a lonely country village, is now a comfortable 
private residence, and the old gateway arch 
would hardly be recognized in the French 
window opening on the front garden. 

Coach Gallery at the Bull, Long Melford 

Gone are the old galleried yards. We do 
not know of one complete instance, except the 
little disused Coach and Horses in York Street, 
Westminster, which is neither large nor beau- 
tiful. Fragments of galleries exist at the old 

Coaching Inns 87 

George Inn in the Borough, where they are in 
several stories ; at the George at Huntingdon ; 
the Golden Lion at St. Ives, and the New Inn 
at Gloucester ; but the finest remaining gallery 
is at the Bull at Dartford. The Bull at Long 
Melford owns a glazed gallery, running along 
the side of the yard next the inn, said to have 
served to facilitate the loading of luggage on 
the coaches. 

But in provincial towns the coaching inn 
is not quite left desolate ; it is the place of 
departure and arrival for the carrier's van. 
One need only search any local directory to 
discover the enormous number of these con- 
veyances and the various inns from which they 
start. The rustic still prefers this method of 
travel to any other, and if the tourist is not 
in a hurry the box seat of a carrier's cart is 
the ideal place from which to study rural 
affairs. The carrier knows everybody in the 
district and he is often a dry kind of philoso- 
pher, if not an archaeologist or naturalist. 
Win his heart and he will divulge unexpected 
secrets, besides securing for you the most 
comfortable night's lodging. His recom- 
mendation will prove a passport admitting 
into every grade of village society. 

When the world proves unkind, when the 

7 (2244) 

88 Old Country Inns 

loneliness and disappointments of life press 
hard upon you if Fortune has dealt you a 
humiliating rebuff then, if you have a few 
shillings left, one night spent in an old way- 
side coaching inn will brace your system up 
and give you heart to face your troubles once 
more with a new courage. The world you 
have left may have despised you. Within the 
walls of this old hostelry, landlord, waiter, 
chambermaid, exist only to obey your lightest 
whim. You are the luminary round which 
this little world revolves the " gentleman 
in the parlour." As Washington Irving so 
well puts it : "To a homeless man there is a 
momentary feeling of independence as he 
stretches himself before an inn fire ; the arm- 
chair is his throne, the poker is his sceptre, 
and the little parlour his undisputed empire/' 
If you condescend to join the company in the 
tap-room, still further honour awaits you. 
Your pronouncements on things temporal 
or things eternal have acquired an acknow- 
ledged value ; your opinion is invited and 
universally deferred to ; and the oldest 
inhabitant will for your special benefit invent 
a new series of reminiscences. In short, you 
will feel the truth of all that Dr. Johnson has 
laid down on the subject : "At a tavern 

Coaching Inns 

there is a general freedom from anxiety. You 
are sure you are welcome ; and the more noise 
you make, the more trouble you give, the more 
good things you call for, the welcomer you are. 

The White Hart, Witham 

No servants will attend you with the alacrity 
which waiters do, who are incited by the 
prospects of an immediate reward in pro- 
portion as they please. No, sir ; there is 

90 Old Country Inns 

nothing which has been contrived by man by 
which so much happiness is produced as by a 
good tavern or inn/' 

A few minutes' gossip with the landlord 
after closing time, and you sink to rest in the 
depth of a feather bed, which removes the 
last vestiges of the care that has beset you. 
Early in the morning you rise refreshed and 
vigorous, ready after a walk round the old- 
fashioned garden to devour unlimited supplies 
of ham and eggs washed down by coffee. 
It is only in real old coaching inns that they 
possess the secret of brewing old English 
coffee a beverage that owes nothing to the 
poisonous intoxicating berry of Arabia, 
discovered by the brothers Shirley. We 
believe it is manufactured by roasting and 
grinding some species of scarlet runner. As 
a breakfast drink it is unequalled. This 
coffee is the last of a series of exhilarating 
experiences before you go your way rejoicing 
and awake to all the graces of life. The bill 
will not be exorbitant that is, if you have 
been reasonable in your demands and the 
landlord contemplates with pleasure your 
return on a future occasion. 

We love the coaching inn, not only as the 
home of practical good cheer, but for the 

Coaching Inns 91 

romantic memories that cling to it. Scarcely 
one of them but has its story of the eloping 
couple, whose chaise slipped out at the back 
gate just as the heroine's father alighted to 
make inquiries at the front door ; the details 
vary, but the lovers always escape in the nick 
of time with the connivance of Boniface. 
In a corner of the gallery of one old inn near 
Huntingdon, a narrow door is shown, fitting 
so exactly that when closed no person except 
those in the secret could trace it. Here some 
Dick Turpin or Claude Duval might lie in wait 
and peep over the balcony to choose his prey 
among the passengers stopping for the night ; 
or find safe hiding from the Bow Street 
runners. Romance easily gathered around 
the journey by coach. Whereas a railway 
acquaintance ends when the passengers each 
go his or her own way from the arrival 
platform, the companions on the coach-top 
met again in the coffee-room, and might re- 
new their intimacy at breakfast next morning. 
Between London and York there was ample 
time and opportunity for any suitable young 
couple to arrive at a good understanding 
with one another. 

None of the coaching inns had a more 
remarkable history than the Castle Inn at 

92 Old Country Inns 

Marlborough. Built by Francis, Lord Sey- 
mour, in the reign of Charles II from the 
reputed designs of Webb, Inigo Jones* pupil 
and son-in-law, this sumptuous manor-house 
was the favourite residence of the Seymour 
family. During its occupation by Frances, 
Countess of Hertford, and afterwards Duchess 
of Somerset, in the early years of the 
eighteenth century, many of the leading wits 
and scholars of the age were invited here. 
Dr. Watts, the hymn-writer, James Thomson, 
author of " The Seasons/' and Elizabeth 
Rowe are all said to have composed their lays 
in the grottoes and extravagantly -arranged 
gardens. When the house passed by marriage 
into the hands of the Northumberland family 
it was neglected as a superfluous residence, 
and at last was let on lease as an inn to a 
Mr. Cotterell. It was a broad-fronted stately 
mansion, the most splendid and best ap- 
pointed hotel in England during that age. 
Before the grand portico no less than forty 
coaches changed horses every day. The 
service was magnificent. A dinner of twenty- 
two covers could, if necessary, be served up 
on silver. 

The great Lord Chatham once stayed several 
weeks at the Castle Inn. He was detained 

Coaching Inns 93 

there on his way back to London from 
Bath, by a relapse of gout. His own suite 
demanded twenty rooms, and the exigencies of 
State during that time strained the resources 
of the hotel to the utmost. He required the 
whole staff, waiters, ostlers and boot-boys to 
wear his livery. Mr. Stanley Weyman has 
seized on just this critical moment, and has 
woven round the Castle Inn the sweetest and 
most enthralling of his many novels. 

Other romances of real life are associated 
with it. Driving through Marlborough and 
halting at the Castle Inn, a certain Duke of 
Chandos heard screams in the inn-yard. 
Hastening to the spot he found a beautiful 
girl being brutally beaten by an ostler. When 
the Duke interfered, the ostler declared that 
the young woman was his wife, and therefore 
that he had an indefeasible right to beat her. 
However, he was willing to compromise the 
matter by selling his wife for 20. The Duke 
paid the money, took the young woman away, 
and, so we are told, afterwards made her 
Duchess of Chandos. 

Water has continued to flow under the 
bridge that spans the Kennett for many 
generations since Sir George Soane sat on the 
parapet and wooed Julia, the college porter's 


Old Country Inns 

daughter. The old Bath Road knows no more 
the coaches, curricles, wigs and hoops, hols- 
tered saddles or the beaux and fine ladies, 
and gentleman's gentlemen whose environ- 
ment they were. We drift half-uncon- 
sciously into the language of the novelist who 

Old Coaching Inns, St Albans 

has recalled these old days so vividly. The 
Castle Inn is now part of Marlborough College, 
founded in 1843. The Rose Inn at Woking- 
ham has been refronted since " With pluvial 
patter for refrain/' Gay, Pope, Swift and 

Coaching Inns 


Arbuthnot spent a rainy afternoon there vying 
their verses in praise of Molly Moy, the fair 
daughter of their host, who in spite of her 
beauty lived to be an old maid of seventy. 
Yet the wayfarer will discover that inn- 
keeper^ daughters are as pretty as they were 
in the days gone by. Romance is not the 
exclusive property of any one generation. 
Where youth and beauty are to be found 
there lurks the romance ; and it belongs 
as much to the inns of our own time as when 
highwaymen, patches, puffs, wigs, and knee 
breeches were the prevailing fashion. 

Botolph's Bridge Inn, Romney Marsh 



WE have shown in previous chapters how the 
old English inn grew up almost always under 
some local authority either the lord of the 
manor, the monastery, or the parish and its 
conduct was regulated by legal enactments 
from the reign of Henry II onwards. The 
alehouse, on the contrary, might conduct its 
business as its owner pleased, subject only 
to the natural laws of supply and demand. 
Every householder was free to brew either for 
his own consumption or for sale, the one 
condition being that his liquor was whole- 
some and good. Among the crimes that in- 
curred the punishment of the ducking-stool 
in the city of Chester during Saxon times 
was that of brewing bad beer. 

In every manor there was held annually 
the assize of bread and ale, the two staple 
articles of diet which it was essential should 
be pure and of good quality. " Bread, the 
staff of life, and beer life itself," not unknown 
as a motto on the signboards, is a saying that 


Wayside Inns and Alehouses 97 

has come down to us from a prehistoric period. 
And modern science, as it seems, is inclined 
to endorse the maxim. Good old-fashioned 
wheaten and rye bread, made from the whole 
flour from which only the coarser brans had 
been sifted, built up the stamina of our fore- 
fathers. Their chief drink was ale brewed 
from barley or oaten malt. The small pro- 
portion of alcohol served as a vehicle for the 
organic phosphates necessary for the susten- 
ance of strong nerves, while the ferment of the 
malt helped to digest the starch granules in 
the bread. Bread and ale are still the main 
diet of our labouring classes but alas ! 
stale, finely-sifted flour contains a very poor 
allowance of gluten, and chemically pro- 
duced saccharine is destitute of phosphates. 
O, that our modern legislators would revive 
the assize of bread and ale ! 

In Arnold's Chronicle, published by Pynson 
about 1521, the following receipt for making 
beer is given : " Ten quarters of malt, two 
quarters of wheat, two quarters of oats and 
eleven poundes of hoppys, to make eleven 
barrels of single beer." Hops only came into 
use about the reign of Henry VII ; pre- 
viously ivy berries, heath or spice had been 
used as a flavouring for ale. Leonard Maskall, 

98 Old Country Inns 

of Plumpton, a writer on gardening in the 
reign of Henry VIII, has the credit of accli- 
matising the hop -plant. He is also said to 
have first introduced carp in the moat at 
Plumpton Place. Hence the rhyme of which 
many versions are given: 

" Hops, heresy, carp and beer, 
Came into England all in one year." 

However, hops are mentioned as an adul- 
terant in ale in a statute of Henry VI ; and 
about the same time mention of beer occurs 
in the accounts of Syon Nunnery, which were 
kept in English. 

Every inn, large or small, once possessed 
its own brewhouse, and although wholesale 
breweries were established about the time of 
the Flemish immigration, at the end of the 
fourteenth century, home-brewed ale was 
commonly on draught fifty or sixty years ago. 
The White Horse at Pleshy, that village that 
boasts of knowing neither a teetotaller nor a 
drunkard, relied entirely on its home-brewed 
liquors up to within the last ten years, and 
the apparatus wherein they were prepared 
remains for the student of old methods to 

Home-brewed ale is still more commonly 
to be met with in some districts than many 

Wayside Inns and Alehouses 


suppose. Even in the neighbourhood of the 
greatest brewery town in the world, Burton- 
on-Trent, there are small inns which rely 
upon their own brewing for the best of their 
ale. There is a very old brewhouse at Derby , 

White Horse, Fleshy 

at the Nottingham Castle Inn, into which 
any passer-by may step from the street and 
see, twice a week, a huge cauldron containing 
about a hundred and twenty gallons, bubbling 
and foaming in the corner. This brewhouse 
dates from the sixteenth century, and is one 

100 Old Country Inns 

of the oldest buildings in the town ; the 
Dolphin, whose licence dates from 1530, 
being another and perhaps older inn in the 
same neighbourhood. 

A legion of brewers are named in Domesday 
Book, mostly women, and manorial assizes 
show a preponderance of the fairer sex. 
The price of bread and ale was fixed by 
statute in Henry Ill's reign, and it was the 
business of the Ale-tester to see that the 
measures were of standard capacity and 
stamped with some recognized official mark. 
Alehouses abounded everywhere, known by a 
long pole surmounted by a tuft of foliage. 
An Act of 1375 regulates the length of the 
ale-stake at not more than seven feet over the 
public way. The poles had a tendency to 
become over long to the deterioration of the 
timber structures from which they depended, 
as well as danger to travellers passing on 
horseback. At Guildford, and some other 
cloth centres, the alehouses were required to 
exhibit a woolpack for a sign. 

These alehouses were of all sorts and sizes. 
There was the humble hedgeside cottage, 
looking like a mere sentry-box, illustrated in 
the fourteenth century MS. 1 , where a hermit 

1 MS. 10. E. IV. 

Wayside Inns and Alehouses 101 

is being entertained by an alewife with a very 
large beer jug ; or the little alehouse on the 
Watling Street, somewhere near Rainham, 
where Chaucer's Pardoner dismounted to 

" Drynke and by ten on a cake " 
before commencing his tale ; or the establish- 
ment by Leatherhead Bridge, where Elinour 
Rummyng drove such a thriving trade, im- 
mortalised by the poet Skelton. Some of 
these larger alehouses were a cause of anxiety 
to well-disposed people, and no doubt the 
Church Houses were partly instituted with the 
idea of inducing the faithful to spend their 
time in a less disreputable manner. All kinds 
of bad characters resorted to the alehouse. 
Piers Plowman gives us a lurid picture of what 
went on there. How the glutton going to be 
shriven met the alewife and was induced to 
spend the afternoon and evening with 
" Tymme the tynkere and tweyne of his prentis 
Hikke the hakeneyman and Hughe the nedeler, 
Clarice of cokkeslane, and the clerke of the Cherche 
Dawe the dykere and a doziene other ; 
Sir Piers of Pridie and Peronelle of Flanders, 
A ribidour, a ratonere, a rakyer of Chepe, 
A ropere, a redynkyng, and Rose the disheres, 
Gofrey of Garlekehithe, and Gryfin the Walshe, 
And upholderes an hepe." 

They drink deeply, joke coarsely and 
quarrels ensue. 

Old Country Inns 

Finally the glutton is hopelessly intoxicated. 
" He myghte neither steppe ne stande, er his staff e 

hadde ; 

And thanne gan he go, liche a glewmannes biche, 
Somme tyme aside, and somme tyme arrere, 
As who-so leyth lynes for to lache foules." 

His wife and maid carry him home between 
them and he lies helpless through Saturday 
and Sunday, waking in bitter repentance at 
having missed his duties. 1 

From Skelton we learn how women came 
to pledge their wedding rings and husbands' 


" Because the ale is good." 

Hence the necessity for an Act in Henry VI Fs 
reign which empowered justices to close ale- 
houses notorious for bad conduct, and later, 
the first Licensing Act of 1552, requiring every 
alehouse-keeper to obtain the licence of two 
justices, and regulating the manner in which 
the business is to be carried on. By an Act 
of 1627, a fine of twenty-one shillings, or in 
default a whipping, was inflicted on the keepers 
of unlicensed alehouses, and on a second 
conviction imprisonment for one month. 
But none of these measures were enforced 
throughout the country, and they were easily 

*" Piers the Plowman." Text B., Passus V. ; Text 
C., Passus VII. 

Wayside Inns and Alehouses 103 

evaded. Anyone was still free to sell ale in 
booths at fair time, and many trades had by 
custom the privilege to sell ale as a part of 
their business : for example, barbers and black- 
smiths, whose customers required entertain- 
ment while waiting their turn. Two centuries 
after the first Licensing Act, the nation was 
still unconvinced on the subject of free trade 
in liquor. In a report on an inquiry made 
by Justices of the Peace for the County of 
Middlesex in 1736, it was shown that within 
the limits of Westminster, Holborn, The Tower 
and Finsbury (exclusive of London and South- 
war k), there were no less than 2,105 unlicensed 
houses. Spirits were retailed by abbve 
eighty other trades, particularly chandlers, 
weavers, tobacconists, shoemakers, carpenters, 
barbers, tailors, dyers, etc. 

Barbers' shops* were once resorted to by 
idlers, in order to pass away their time, and a 
system of forfeits prevailed, nominally to 
enforce order, but in practice to promote the 
sale of drink. They are referred to in 
" Measure for Measure. " 

" Laws for all faults, 

But laws so countenanced that the strong statutes 
Stand like the forfeits in a barber's shop 
As much in mock as mark." 

8 (2244) 

104 Old Country Inns 

Dr. Kenrick professes to have copied the 
following list of forfeits in a shop near 
Northallerton : 

First come, first served then come not late ; 
And when arrived keep your state ; 
For he who from these rules shall swerve 
Must pay the forfeits so observe." 


Who enters here with boots and spurs, 
Must keep his nook ; for if he stirs, 
And gives with armed heel a kick, 
A pint he pays for every prick. 


Who rudely takes another's turn, 
A forfeit mug may manners learn. 


Who reverentless shall swear or curse, 
Must lug seven farthings from his purse. 


Who checks the barber in his tale, 
Must pay for each a pot of ale. 


Who will or cannot miss his hat 
While trimming, pays a pint for that. 


And he who can or will not pay, 
Shall hence be sent half trimm'd away, 
For will he, nill he, if in fault, 
He forfeit must in meal or malt. 
But mark who is already in drink, 
The cannikin must never clink." 

Wayside Inns and Alehouses 105 

As the restrictions on travelling graduA 
ally disappeared many of the alehouses 
developed into inns. As early as 1349, a 
statute of Edward III, requiring those who 
entertained travellers to be content with 
moderate prices, recognizes the class of 
Herbergers l or keepers of unlicensed hostelries. 
And these inns as a class are deserving of 
close study from the difficult problem of 
determining their exact age. Some of them 
may have existed as alehouses during the 
Saxon period ; some may even stand on 
the sites of Roman tabernae. 

The oldest of all inn signs of this class is 
the Chequers, found throughout England, but 
especially in the neighbourhood of old Roman 
roads. This sign is found on many houses at 
Pompeii, and was throughout Europe the 
common indication of a money-changer's 
office. Hence our Court of the Exchequer, 
which concerned itself with the national funds 
and their collection. The chess-board was 
the most primitive form of ready reckoner ; 
and as the innkeeper was the person best 
qualified to act as money-changer he readily 
undertook the business. Small tradesmen 

1 Literally " Harbourers." Compare the French 

106 Old Country Inns 

still send their assistants to the public-house 
when they require to change a sovereign. 
Many heraldic shields are painted with checks, 
and Brand, in his " Popular Antiquities/' 
suggested that the Chequers represent the 

The Chequers, Redbourne 

coat of arms of the Earls of Warrenne, on 
the supposition that a member of this family 
in the reign of Edward IV possessed the 
exclusive right of granting licences. It is 
absolutely certain that no such licence was 
ever authorised. Nothing of the kind was 
ever attempted before Sir Giles Mompesson in 
the reign of James I ; but, of course, some 
" chequers " may possibly have a heraldic 

Chaucer's pilgrims put up at the Chequers 
on the Hope (i.e., on the Hoop) at Canterbury, 

Wayside Inns and Alehouses 107 

and part of this inn still remains near the 
Cathedral gate. There was also a Chequers 
Inn at St. Albans, but it has now ceased to 
exist. Either may have stood on the sites of 
Roman inns ; but with these as with the 
thatched Chequers on the Watling Street, 
near Redbourne, or the Chequers at Loose or 
Doddington, speculation is vain. Like the 
needy knife-grinder, whose breeches were so 
woefully torn during his drinking bout at an 
inn bearing the same name : " Story ? God bless 
you, I have none to tell, sir ! " is the universal 
answer to all our inquiries for any historical 
particulars beyond a century or two back. 

Wayside inns needed no licence and were 
usually carried on by a hosteller who com- 
bined the occupation with that of farmer or 
tradesman of some kind. Where any old 
leases exist they are described merely as tene- 
ments or farms. Thus the Dorset Arms at 
Withyham, a very picturesque old shingled 
and barge-boarded inn, appears as " Somers* 
Farm/' Only by accident do we find the name 
of one of the tenants, William Pigott, on a 
list of Sussex tavern-keepers in the year 1636. 

When the sign of the Three Horseshoes 
occurs at the end of a rough difficult stretch 
of road during which a horse would often lose 

108 Old Country Inns 

a shoe, it is probable that the inn grew up 
side by side with a blacksmith's business, 
even when the smithy no longer exists. In 
a very lonely and exposed situation on the 
Ermine Street, where the road to St. Ives 

The Three Horseshoes near Papworth Everard 

crosses near Papworth Everard, there is a 
thatched inn bearing this sign and also known 
as Kisby's Hut. At Lickfold, about six miles 
from Haslemere, almost under the shadow of 
Black Down, the highest hill in Sussex, there 
is a cosy half-timbered Three Horseshoes, 
which has come down to our time practically 
unaltered since the day of its erection in 
1642, and it is well worth examination. The 
roads around it are liable to be flooded, and 
it is a likely place for waggoners to pull up for 
repairs. But when disentangling the riddles 

Wayside Inns and Alehouses 109 

of local history, we must not be led astray 
with obvious explanations. Many old coats 
of arms contain the three horseshoes. Indeed 
there is one inn on a manor once belonging 
to the Shelleys, where possibly the forgotten 
shield of the older Kentish branch of the 

The Horseshoes, Lick fold 

family the three escallops has been 
repainted as three horseshoes. 

The Plough and Harrow are both primitive 
emblems, and agricultural signs such as these 
point to a very high antiquity. The Plough 
at Kingsbury is supposed to be more than 
eight hundred years old. 

At the Upper Dicker in Sussex there is an 
inn called the Plough, which is worth visiting 
by motorists on their way to the Star at 

110 Old Country Inns 

Alfriston, especially as it will enable them to 
get a glimpse of Michelham Priory on an 
island in the Cuckmere close by. The tap- 
room of this inn has a generously-planned 
fireplace with an ancient fireback and dogs. 
Up till quite recently it was the custom to 
keep a fire constantly burning, and in the 
hottest weather the warmth of this fire was 
far from unwelcome owing to the thickness of 
the outer walls. This tradition of the ever- 
burning fire is a curious one, found in remote 
districts, and pointing to a time when the 
public-house was necessarily resorted to for 
purposes of this kind. At the Chequers 
Inn, Slapestones, near Osmotherly, in York- 
shire, the hearth-fire has been burning un- 
interruptedly for at least a hundred and 
thirty years. 

Some inns now known as the Ship were 
possibly at one time the " Sheep/' as will be 
readily understood by those acquainted with 
rustic dialect. Shepherd and Crook, Load of 
Hay, Woodman, are all to be found in rural 
districts throughout England. The Wheat- 
sheaf, whether it surmounts a fine old coaching 
house in a market town, or a little wayside 
inn far from the madding crowd, reminds us 
that we once could boast of the finest wheat 

Wayside Inns and Alehouses 111 

culture in the world ; while the Harvest Home 
pleasantly recalls the merry-making which 
concluded the ingathering of the crops. 

In some country villages there are a very 
large number of small inns close together, 
perhaps three in a row. At Steeple Ashton, 
in Oxfordshire, there are thirteen, and at 
East Ilsley, in Berkshire, nearly as many to a 
population of about five hundred. The street 
seems almost to consist of public-houses. 
But it would be quite wrong to suppose that 
the inhabitants of these districts are unduly 
given to convivial habits. The reports of the 
petty sessions show that drunkenness is 
exceedingly rare. In Steeple Ashton division 
no charge of drunkenness has been heard for 
the past six years. Such villages are decayed 
market towns, which become important at the 
time of their periodical sheep fairs, when an 
army of graziers and shepherds from the 
distant downs must find board and lodging. 
For a week these inns are crowded with 
dealers in velveteen jackets, and grizzled 
veterans clad in those blue smock coats and 
slouched hats, which were once the universal 
dress of village labourers, with a shaggy bob- 
tail dog under every chair. When fair -time 
is over they are quite deserted. 



" THE Greeks honoured their great men and 
successful commanders by erecting statues 
to them," remarks Jacob Larwood ; " modern 
nations make the portraits of their cele- 
brities serve as signs for public-houses." 1 
Certainly it would be possible to make the 
signboards on the inns serve as texts for a 
complete history of England. There was once 
even a Ccesar's Head in Great Palace Yard ; 
and King Alfred and Canute are still com- 
memorated at Wantage and at Southampton ; 
while the King Edgar Inn at Chester, repre- 
sents on its sign that monarch being rowed 
in a wherry down the river Dee by eight 
tributary kings. But for authentic and 
ancient historical signs we must not refer 
to any earlier period than the reign of 
Edward III, when inns began to be built in 
large numbers. 

Many Red Lion inns date from this reign. 
The red lion was the badge of John of Gaunt, 

1 " History of Signboards," II, 45. 

Historic Signs and Historic Inns 113 

married to Constance, daughter of Don 
Pedro the Cruel, King of Leon and Castille. 

Red Lion, Wingham 

On the other hand, John of Gaunt was the 
leader of an unpopular and reactionary party, 
not likely to commend itself to the innkeeper. 
The Red Lion at Wingham, containing an old 

114 Old Country Inns 

court -room and some curious and beautifully 
carved oaken beams, ceilings and kings-posts, 
is declared by experts to date from 1320. 
In this case it is more probable that the red 
lion of Scotland, conquered by Edward I, 
is commemorated. A landlord of the Red 
Lion at Sittingbourne, in 1820, advertised 
his establishment as " Remarkable for an 
entertainment made by Mr. John Norwood 
for King Henry V, as he returned from the 
Battle of Agincourt, in France, in the year 
1415, the whole amounting to no more than 
nine shillings and ninepence, wine being at 
that time only a penny a pint, and all other 
things proportionately cheap/' The Red 
Lion at Speldhurst, near Tunbridge Wells, 
was discovered by the investigations of the 
late Mr. Morris in the Inland Revenue to 
have possessed a licence in 1415. 

Not all Red Lion inns, however, date from 
the fourteenth century, for this was also said 
to be the favourite badge of Cardinal Wolsey. 
At Hampton-on-Thames the Red Lion came 
into existence when that great statesman was 
building Hampton Court Palace, and served 
to lodge the better class of craftsmen engaged 
in the work. After being for centuries a 
favourite meeting-place for the Royal Chase, 

Historic Signs and Historic Inns 115 

it became a resort for literary and dramatic 
folk, Dryden, Pope, Colley Gibber, Addison, 
Quinn, and Kitty Clive being among the 
names associated with the house. In the 
early part of the nineteenth century it was 
famous for its tulip feasts which drew the 
tulip fanciers of the world to Hampton. In 
1908 the charming old Tudor structure was 
condemned to make way for a street -widening 
scheme, and its last appearance was as the 
background to a cinematograph picture, in 
which the house suddenly burst into 
flames, frenzied occupants appeared at the 
windows, the heroes of the local fire brigade 
flew to the rescue in the nick of time, and 
the fire was put out in the most approved 

At Walsingham there is a large inn con- 
taining remains of fourteenth -century work, 
called the Black Lion. Perhaps it takes its 
name from the arms of Queen Philippa, of 
Hainault, who came hither with her husband, 
Edward III, in 1361, to offer thanks for the 
happy conclusion of the French Wars after the 
treaty of Bretigny. But both Black Lion and 
Golden Lion may occasionally refer to the 
lions of Flanders and be marks of the great 
immigration of Flemish weavers, ironfounders 


Old Country Inns 

and brewers during the fourteenth and 
fifteenth centuries. 

The Swan was a favourite emblem with 
many of our kings, its first mention being in 

The Swan, Sutton Valence 

the " Vow of the Swan," when Edward I 
swore to take vengeance on Scotland for the 
murder of Comyn. On the signboards it 
must generally be ascribed to Henry IV. 
With Henry V and VI, the antelope is the 
heraldic emblem ; there is an old half-tim- 
bered Antelope opposite the Market House at 

Historic Signs and Historic Inns 117 

Godalming, but it has recently been re-named 
the White Hart. At Bristol and at Guildford 
are White Lion inns, probably in honour of 
Edward IV, whose arms have for supporters 
the White Lion and the Black Bull of the house 
of Clarence. 

Richard III reigned for too short a span to 
provide us with many White Boars, and the 
few that existed hastened after his death to 
change their names to that of the Blue Boar ; 
a coat of blue paint was a cheap way of con- 
verting the White Boar of the fallen monarch 
into the Blue Boar of the Earl of Oxford, 
whose influence had contributed very largely 
to place Henry Tudor on the throne. It was 
at the Blue Boar at Leicester, that Richard 
III slept just before the battle of Bosworth. 
A large richly carved and gilded four -post 
bedstead was long preserved there and shown 
to sightseers as the bed which he occupied. 
In the time of Elizabeth, a Mr. Clarke, who 
kept the house, accidentally discovered a huge 
store of gold coins of the reign of Richard III, 
underneath the planks of the bedstead. He 
concealed his good fortune and thus from a 
poor condition he became rich, but this ill- 
gotten wealth brought a curse in its train. A 
maid-servant plotted with seven ruffians to 

118 Old Country Inns 

rob the inn. Mrs. Clarke, interrupting them 
at their work, was strangled by the maid- 
servant, who was sentenced to be drawn and 
burnt, and her seven accomplices were 
hanged in the Market Place at Leicester 
in 1613. 

Another sign which disappeared utterly 
after the Battle of Bosworth, was the White 
Rose ; but the Red Rose of Lancaster is not 
uncommon at the present time in the County 
Palatine. The Rose and Crown, or Rose and 
Portcullis, are the royal signs of Henry VIFs 
reign. But as the Rose was in mediaeval 
times regarded as an emblem of Our Lady, 
" Rosa Mystica," besides being a national 
emblem, the numerous Rose inns must not be 
attributed to this period without more positive 
historical evidence. Such doubts are not 
likely to arise with regard to the King's Head, 
a sign nearly always adorned with a lifelike 
portrait of bluff King Harry. Many of these 
houses are old monastic or collegiate property, 
whose lessees were anxious by the change of 
sign, to acknowledge their acceptance of the 
situation. It is not necessary to fare a long 
distance from town to find an old King's 
Head. In the village of Roehampton, a short 
mile from Putney, the much married monarch 

Historic Signs and Historic Inns 119 

may still be recognized on the battered, faded 
signboard hanging over an obelisk-shaped 
post in front of the long low inn, faced with 
shingles. Within the house are many 

King's Head, Roehampton 

quaint low-ceilinged rooms and some curious 

" Good Queen Bess/' either by portrait or 
bust, is associated with the Queen's Head, 
although in this case painter or modeller had 
to be careful, as the Virgin Queen was exceed- 
ingly particular. If her effigy proved to be 

120 Old Country Inns 

uncomely, or not lifelike in her opinion, it 
was liable to destruction and the perpetrator 
to suffer from her serious displeasure. A 
proclamation of 1563, complains that "a grete 
number of her loving subjects are much greved 
and to take grete offence with the errors and 
deformities allredy committed by sondry 
persons in this behalf/' and orders that means 
be taken to " prohibit the shewing and publi- 
cation of such as are apparently deformed, 
until they may be reformed which are re- 
formable," Many of the Queen's Head inns 
may owe their origin to Sir Walter Raleigh, 
who, in the thirtieth year of that reign 
obtained a patent " to make licence for keep- 
ing of taverns and retailing of wines through 
England." The Queen's Head at Islington, 
a noble structure with an elaborately-carved 
front and richly ornamented ceilings, has 
always been connected traditionally with Sir 
Walter. Either in this house, or at the 
Old Pied Bull close by, occurred that amusing 
episode in the early history of tobacco smoking. 
His servant, happening to be carrying in a pail 
of water, observed to his horror clouds of smoke 
issuing from Raleigh's mouth, and imagining 
him to be on fire, with admirable presence of 
mind poured the liquid in a deluge over the 

Historic Signs and Historic Inns 121 

knight. x Both inns have unfortunately been 
pulled down. 

With James I, the arms of England and 
Scotland were united, and the Unicorn ap- 
pears for the first time. There are many 
Unicorn inns in the South of England ; but 
the fabulous beast was also a sign used by 
apothecaries, possibly because the horn (really 
that of the Narwhal) was supposed to detect 
the presence of poison. Albertus Magnus 
mentions (without endorsing) a belief current 
in his time that knife-handles made of this 
substance would sweat, if poison was brought 
into the room. Fuller was more credulous. 

Charles I took refuge at the Unicorn Inn 
at Weobly, in Herefordshire, on September 
5th, 1645, and this inn was afterwards called 
the Crown. It is now a private house. 

Royal Oaks are everywhere in memory of 
the Boscobel Oak, and the accession of Charles 
II. Oliver Cromwell, who had usurped the 
Rose and Crown in High Street, Knights- 
bridge, was dethroned once more to make 
room for the reinstatement of the old sign. 
Coming nearer to our own time the Brunswick 

1 Charles Lamb, who delighted in the old Queen's 
Head, suggests that the liquid was not water but 
" Black Jack." 

122 Old Country Inns 

inns hail the succession of the house of 
Brunswick to the English Crown. George III 
and George IV appear occasionally, but not 
so frequently as William IV, our Sailor King. 
Queen Victoria's popularity is shown by the 
hundreds of Victoria, Island Queen, Empress 
and Jubilee inns. Since the coronation of 
our late gracious sovereign, King Edward 
VII, the duties of the justices have involved 
the closing of old houses rather than the 
licensing of new ones. So that it is unlikely 
that future generations will be able to realise 
the esteem and regard of his subjects by any 
large number of Edward VII inns. However, 
there will be a considerable array of Royal 
Alberts and Prince of Wales signboards to 
indicate this nation's good feeling towards him 
when he was heir apparent to the throne ; 
the same remark will apply with regard to 
the Princess Alexandra and Rose of Denmark. 
We have by no means exhausted the list 
of royal emblems. Some Falcon inns may 
have taken their title from the badge of the 
Dukes of York ; but this was not invariably 
the case, when in districts where hawking was 
a popular sport. The Falcon Hotel, near Clap- 
ham Junction, owes its name to the river 
Falcon, once a considerable stream, but now 

Historic Signs and Historic Inns 123 

only permitted to flow through Battersea 
underground. The "Gun" was a Tudor sign, 
and the Gun Inn at Dorking, evidently dates 
from the reign of Edward VI. Edward III 
quartered the French arms with the English ; 
the practice was continued by his successors 
and may have originated the Fleur de Lis or 
Flower de Luce inns, where none of the local 
families bear this charge on their shields. 
Mention of the Fleur de Lis at Faversham 
is the one piece of local colouring in the 
" Tragedy of Arden of Faversham," formerly 
attributed to Shakespeare. The Three Frogs, 
near Wokingham, is, perhaps, a version of the 
arms of France ; before the entente cordiale it 
used to be a theory widely current among 
patriotic Britons that the fleur de Us really 
was intended for a heraldic representation of 
a frog. 

Occasionally members of noble families 
have attained to such distinction that their 
crests have been utilized for inn signs far 
beyond the limits of their estates. The Bear 
and Ragged Staff was the crest of the Earls of 
Warwick ; but it attained to notoriety after 
its adoption by the rapacious Dudleys. 
Robert Dudley, afterwards Duke of North- 
umberland, discarded the Green Lion, his own 

124 Old Country Inns 

emblem, for the Bear and Ragged Staff of his 
mother, the last heiress of the Warwick 
family. His fourth son, Robert Dudley, 
Earl of Leicester, a favourite of Queen 
Elizabeth, inherited the manor at Cumnor, 
an old possession of Abingdon Abbey. The 
Bear and Ragged Staff at Cumnor, and its 
landlord at that period, Giles Gosling, are 
described in Sir Walter Scott's novel, " Kenil- 
worth," wherein is also related the tragic fate 
of Dudley's unhappy countess, Amy Robsart. 
Old pictures show this inn down to the middle 
of the last century as retaining its thatched 
roof and rustic primitive appearance. On 
the signboard was the name of the licensee, 
with the addition, " late Giles Gosling." 

The Eagle and Child was the crest of the 
Earls of Derby, the Maiden Head, of the 
Dukes of Buckingham, and the White Bear, 
that of the Earls of Kent. A still more 
frequent sign in the home counties, the Grass- 
hopper, shows the popularity of the great Sir 
Thomas Gresham, to whom we owe the 
Royal Exchange and many other great City 
institutions. Sir Christopher Hatton and Sir 
Francis Walsingham, both Elizabethan states- 
men of eminence, gave us| respectively the 
Hind and the Tiger's Head. For the Saracen's 

Historic Signs and Historic Inns 125 

Head there will be various claimants, 
according to locality, so many crusaders 
having adopted this charge ; but a few inn- 
keepers of Lollard sympathies possibly adopted 
the sign out of compliment to Sir John 
Oldcastle. Bagford informs us that the 
Pelican was the badge of Lord Cromwell, the 
despoiler of monasteries, who also stole this 
emblem from the Church. At Speen, near 
Newbury, there was a coaching inn on the 

Bath Road, which provoked an epigram : 

" The famous house at Speenhamland, 

That stands upon the hill, 
May well be called the Pelican, 
From its enormous bill." 

Coming to the ballad heroes, Guy of War- 
wick and the Dun Cow slain by him are found 
all through the Midlands ; but they cannot 
compare for popularity with Robin Hood, 
who is usually accompanied by Little John on 
the signboard. This is not a result of the 
modern taste for romantic literature. The 
Robin Hood is mentioned as a common ale- 
house sign by Samuel Rowlands in " Martin 
Mark-all, Beadle of Bridewell," published in 
1610. All the world loved Robin Hood, and 
cherished his memory as a jolly good-natured 
outlaw, manly and fearless, generous to the 
poor and careful for the honour of womenkind. 

126 Old Country Inns 

Robin Hood alone among the revolutionary 
spirits of the Middle Ages has a place on the 
signboards, although Wat Tyler is remem- 
bered in connection with the Crown Inn at 
Dartford, and Jack Straw's Castle was until 
lately a great resort for holiday-makers on 
Hampstead Heath. King James and the 
Tinker inn at Enfield, which claims on doubt- 
ful authority to be over a thousand years 
old, is associated with another ballad story 
of which there are many versions, such as 
" King Henry and the Miller of Mansfield," or 
" King John and the Miller of Charlton." In 
one of these tales our old friend, the Vicar of 
Bray, was dining at the Bear at Maidenhead 
with some friends. The party had taxed all 
the resources of the hotel, and when a 
stranger tired and hungry asked for refresh- 
ments, the vicar only admitted him to table 
very grudgingly. At the end of the meal the 
stranger discovered that he had left his 
purse behind him, and was roundly abused by 
the dignitary. However, his curate pleaded 
that the merry quips and anecdotes of the 
guest deserved consideration ; he had proved 
himself a good fellow and had earned his 
dinner. At this moment some members of 
the royal staff enter, and the guest turns out 

Historic Signs and Historic Inns 127 

to be nothing less than his Majesty James I. 
So the churlish vicar undergoes much dis- 
comfiture, and the curate receives the reward 
of high preferment. 

Outbursts of patriotism are a feature on the 
signboards. Great victories of the British 
forces by land and sea, and the great military 
and naval heroes have all been commemorated 
in their turn, beginning with the Crispin and 
Crispinian, which greeted the troops of Henry 
V, as they returned along the old Watling 
Street, after Agincourt (which was fought on 

the feast day of these twin saints). 
" Crispin Crispian shall never go by 
From this day to the ending of the world, 
But we in it shall be remembered." 

"Henry V," IV, 3. 

The Bull and Mouth is said to be a corrup- 
tion of Boulogne Mouth, captured by Henry 
VIII . Bull and Gate may possibly be a similar 
vulgarism for Boulogne Gate. We might 
draw up a complete sequence of great battles 
fought and fortresses taken during the last 
three centuries, but those most frequently 
met with are Gibraltar, Waterloo, Battle of the 
Nile, and Trafalgar. Admirals range from 
Blake to Napier, generals from Marlborough 
to Wolseley. Not one of them is forgotten, 
though Wellington, Nelson and Keppel can 

128 Old Country Inns 

probably claim the largest number of adhe- 
rents. The Marquis of Granby, almost 
forgotten by the ordinary reader of history, 
enjoyed a remarkable popularity in his own 
day, if we are to judge by the number of 
portraits of this high-spirited and courageous 
nobleman which hang outside public-houses. 
The original of Mr. Tony Weller's Marquis of 
Granby is, we believe, the one at Epsom, 
" Quite a model of a roadside public -house of 
the better class just large enough to be con- 
venient, and small enough to be snug." The 
sign portrayed " the head and shoulders of a 
gentleman with an apoplectic countenance, 
in a red coat with blue facings, and a touch 
of the same blue over his three-cornered hat, 
for a sky. Over that again were a pair of 
flags ; beneath the last button of his coat 
were a couple of cannon ; and the whole 
formed an expressive and undoubted likeness 
of the Marquis of Granby of glorious memory/ 1 
But the heart of the nation was most 
deeply touched by the mingled triumph and 
pathos at Trafalgar. Lord Nelson, Victory, and 
Trafalgar, greet us on every high road that 
leads down to the sea, in the neighbourhood 
of every harbour or dock, and beside the 
quays on every navigable river. And it is 

Historic Signs and Historic Inns 129 

surprising how many of these Nelson inns 
buildings three or four centuries old, showing 
that the innkeeper was prepared to sacrifice 

The Nelson, Maidstone 

the sign under which he had hitherto done 
business and trusted to make a new reputa- 
tion under the aegis of the popular hero. We 
have discovered several Nelson inns of this 

130 Old Country Inns 

type in Kent, though none which we recall 
with more pleasure than the quaint many- 
gabled wooden structure with a considerable 
list to starboard on the high path by the 
riverside at Maidstone. Its ways are homely 
but hearty ; the same family have remained 
in possession for a period rapidly approaching 
the century ; and almost every article of 
furniture is old-fashioned and curious. 

The public -house has been described as 
" the forum of the English/' We may sneer 
at pot-house politics, but it is only in the 
tavern, the haven of free speech, that the 
burning questions of the day can be discussed 
with freedom and sincerity. Washington 
Irving called the inn " the temple of true 
liberty/' The Punch Bowl was a Whig sign, 
because that party preferred that beverage 
(possibly because it was favoured by Fox), 
whereas the Tories remained faithful to old- 
fashioned drinks like claret and sack. Most 
of the political idols obtaining a recognition 
over the tavern door have been champions 
of reform, such as John Wilkes, Sir Francis 
Burdett, Palmer ston, and Gladstone. Tradi- 
tionally the innkeeper was strongly inclined 
to this side until the bitter attacks of a section 
of the Liberal party on his business and very 

Historic Signs and Historic Inns 131 

existence forced him in self-protection into 
alliance with modern conservatism. 

Little interesting fragments of local history 
are sometimes recorded on the signboards. 
For instance, in High Street, South Norwood, 
there are three public-houses in succession, 
the Ship, Jolly Sailor, and Albion. But for 
these we might forget that the Croydon 
Canal once ran through this district with a 
wharf for unloading barges. The Sloop Inn, 
at Blackhouse, in Sussex, dates from the time 
when the river Ouse was navigable as far as 
Lindfield. At the foot of Gipsy Hill is the 
Gipsy Queen, named after Margaret Finch, 
who ruled over the encampment of nomads 
in the forest and told fortunes to all comers. 
She died in 1760, at the age of 109, and was 
buried in Beckenham Churchyard. Owing 
to her constant habit of sitting with her chin 
resting on her knees, it was necessary to 
employ a deep square box in place of an 
ordinary coffin for her interment. Local 
worthies are not very frequent ; but John 
Winchcombe, the famous clothier of Newbury, 
" the most considerable clothier that England 
ever had," is honoured at intervals along the 
Bath Road as Jack of Newbury. General Wolfe, 
unlike the prophets, finds special remembrance 

132 Old Country Inns 

in his own birthplace, Westerham; but Sir 
Walter Raleigh has been quite overlooked 
at Mitcham, in spite of the fact that he was 
the founder of its leading manufacture. The 
inhabitants of Islington are more grateful 
to Sir Hugh Middleton for providing them 
with the New River, and more than one house 
bearing this sign exists in the district. 

Foreign princes have occasionally attained 
the distinction of tavern popularity, but none 
so frequently as Frederick the Great, whose 
portrait over the inspiring words ' The 
Glorious Protestant Hero/' was painted on 
many a signboard after the battle of Rosbach, 
and the King of Prussia is still a familiar name. 
Garibaldi is an instance of British sympathy 
with the political aspirations of a foreign 
people. Many English adventurers joined 
in the struggles of the young Italian nation, 
and its principal hero became for the time 
a popular idol of the very first order. The 
length to which a section of the community 
were led in their worship of the red-shirted 
revolutionist is satirised happily in Mortimer 
Collins' " Village Comedy," wherein the local 
publican constantly cites " Old Garry " as 
the proper person to appeal to in deciding 
delicate questions of etiquette and morality. 

Historic Signs and Historic Inns 133 

The Anchor at Liphook, on the old Ports- 
mouth road, was a favourite resort of Edward 
II, when hunting in Woolmer Forest, and 
Queen Anne when visiting the Staghunt also 
put up here. To this inn came Samuel Pepys 
in 1668, " exceeding tremulous about high- 
waymen/' having missed his way to Guild- 
ford while coming over Hindhead. Another inn 
which could many a tale unfold, if walls had 
tongues as well as ears, is the Bull at Coventry. 
Half a dozen conspiracies have been hatched 
under its spreading gables. Henry VII made 
it his headquarters before the Battle of 
Bosworth. Mary Queen of Scots was im- 
prisoned here for a short time ; and it was 
the first meeting-place for the devisers of 
Gunpowder Plot to blow up the Houses 
of Parliament. 

A handsomely-panelled and pilastered 
room in the Crown and Treaty at Uxbridge, is 
shown to visitors as part of the hall in which 
took place those six months of fruitless 
negotiations between King and Parliament in 
1644, which ended in sealing the fate of the 
monarchy. We have not been able to trace 
the particular establishment, but it is said that 
an alehouse had its share in accomplishing 
the restoration of Charles II. It appears 

134 Old Country Inns 

that a messenger from the Parliament carry- 
ing letters to General Monk at Edinburgh 
travelled in company with one of the General's 
sergeants, and happened to mention that 
he also held despatches for the Governor 
of Edinburgh Castle. The circumstance 
aroused the suspicions of his companion. 
The messenger was induced to stop at a way- 
side inn and plied with brandy until he became 
so intoxicated that the papers could be taken 
from his person without detection. Then the 
sergeant posted by forced stages to his general 
with the packet, which was opened and 
perused. It turned out to contain an order 
for Monk's arrest. Policy and resentment 
combined to direct the eyes of Monk to Charles 
Stuart, and in due course the Restoration 
became an accomplished fact. 



MANY of the inn signs to be met with in the 
old provincial trading centres recall the 
sports of our ancestors. Too often these 
were of a brutal and barbarous character, 
suited only to an age which took its pleasures 
strenuously and knew nothing of squeam- 
ishness and delicate nerves. Not that we 
of the twentieth century are at heart one 
whit more humane. The cockney who would 
faint at the bloodshed and slaughter in a 
bull -ring, devours greedily in his Sunday 
newspaper all the details of a horrible murder, 
or a railway accident. 

Bull -running and bull -baiting was an attrac- 
tion only rivalled by bear-baiting. The 
corporations of some towns had a by-law 
forbidding butchers to exhibit bull beef for 
sale, unless the animal had previously been 
baited by dogs for the amusement of the 
populace. Over the entrance of the ancient 
Butchers' Hall at Hereford, still hangs the 
bull-ring that was used on these occasions. 



Old Country Inns 

It required the introduction of several fruit- 
less bills into the House of Commons between 
1802 and 1835, before an Act was finally 
passed to abolish the practice. Dog and Bear 
is a very common sign, usually Jacobean in 

Horse and Groom, near Waltham St. Lawrence 

its origin. Bull and Ring, Dog and Bull, 
Bull and Butcher, are all somewhat rare. 

Cock-fighting was a very favourite spectacle 
from the earliest times, enjoyed heartily by 
gentle and serf, young and old, learned and 
simple. Nature intended the game-cock to 
strive for mastery with his rival, and with 
the weapons provided by nature the combat 
has a fearful interest for the modern British 
boy, as each spring new conflicts recur in the 
farmyard. But the art of the Elizabethan 

Sports and Pastimes 137 

sportsman supplemented nature with a sharp 
spur of steel. A graphic account of a cock- 
fight is given by Count Kilmansegge in his 
" Diary of a Journey to England, 1761-2." 
The scene is to be identified by the little 
passage from Queen Anne's Gate to Birdcage 
Walk, still known as Cock- Pit Alley. 

" On the 1st February, we went to see a 
cock-fight, which lasted the whole of the week, 
where heavy bets, made by the Duke of 
Ancaster and others, for more than 100 guineas 
were at stake. The fight takes place at the 
Cock-Pit close to St. James's Park, in the 
vicinity of Westminster. In the middle of a 
circle and a gallery surrounded by benches, 
a slightly-raised theatre is erected upon which 
the cocks fight ; they are a small kind of cock, 
to the legs of which a long spur, like a long 
needle is fixed, with which they know how to 
inflict damage on their adversaries very 
cleverly during the fight, but on which also 
they are frequently caught themselves, so 
breaking their legs. One bird of each of the 
couples which we saw fighting met with this 
misfortune, so that he was down in a moment, 
and unable to raise or to help himself, con- 
sequently his adversary at once had an 
enormous advantage. Notwithstanding this, 

138 Old Country Inns 

he fought with his beak for half an hour 
but the other bird had the best of it, and both 
were carried off with bleeding heads. No 
one who has not seen such a sight can conceive 
the uproar by which it is accompanied, as 
everybody at the same time offers and accepts 
bets . . . We were satisfied with seeing two 
fights, although we might have remained to 
see still more for the half-crown which we paid 
on entering/' 

The cock -pit was not infrequently to be 
found in the inn yards. At Lincoln the 
corporation pit was in the yard of the 
Reindeer, and here James I, a great patron 
of this sport, was entertained. Pope, whilst 
living with his father at Chiswick, took great 
delight in cock-fighting ; all his pocket-money 
was laid out in buying birds from various 
choice strains. From this passion, we are 
told, his mother had the good sense and 
skill to wean him. 

Country towns generally contain an inn 
called the Cock-fighters, sometimes with remains 
of the old pit in situ ; and the sign of the Cock 
and Bell is said to be derived from the shrove- 
tide cock-fights, when boys matched their 
birds against each other, and to the lucky 
owner was awarded a silver bell, which he 

Sports and Pastimes 139 

wore in his hat for three Sundays following. 
Originally, the Shrovetide cocks were 
mounted on stools and stones thrown at 
them. Out of this has grown the modern 
" Cocoanut Shy/' 

The sign of the Bird in Hand, often merely 
facetious, may when seen on old inns, as at 
Widmore, near Bromley, have reference to 
hawking ; so with Hawk and Buckle and 
Falcon which, as a rule, we are content to 
treat as heraldic emblems. 

The Kentish Bowman and the Bow and 
Arrow remain to tell us of archery, the 
favourite village pastime in rural England 
until quite recently. It is a disputed point 
whether the resilient virtues of the wood, or 
their use in Palm Sunday processions had most 
to answer for the hacked and mutilated 
condition of the branches of old churchyard 
yews. Speed the Plough recalls the rustic 
ploughing competitions. 

Dog and Gun, Dog and Duck, Dog and 
Badger, Fox and Hounds, and Huntsman, all 
betray the characteristic trait of John Bull, 
who celebrates a fine frosty morning by 
" going out to kill something/' The Hunt 
meet is usually in front of some leading inn ; 
and hither when the run is over choice blades 

140 Old Country Inns 

repair to recount the doings of the day. 
These inns abound in trophies of the chase, 
mounted antlers, stuffed foxes, otters, or rare 
birds in glass cases ; though few can vie with 
the collection of specimens and prints at the 
Swan, Tarporley ; where even the plate and 
crockery bear witness to the pursuits of 
its patrons. 

The Blue Cap at Sandiway, in Cheshire, 
built in 1715, was so re-named in 1762 in 
memory of a very remarkable hound. So 
fast was his pace that a weight had to be 
slung round his neck to prevent him out- 
racing the rest of the pack. On one side 
of the signboard his portrait appears. On 
the reverse the following account of the 
race which first brought him into notice : 

"On Saturday, September 28th, 1762, 
Blue Cap and Wanton, ye property of Mr. 
Smith-Barry, Master of ye Cheshire, in a 
match over ye Beacon course at Newmarket, 
beat a couple of Mr. Meynell's (ye Quorn), 
one of which was Richmond. Sixty horses 
started with ye hounds. Mr. Smith-Barry's 
huntsman, Cooper, was ye first up, but ye mare 
that carried him was quite blind at ye end. 
Only twelve got to ye end. Will Craine, 
who trained ye Cheshire hounds, came in 

Sports and Pastimes 141 

twelfth on Rib. Betting was 6 to 4 on 

According to Daniel the race was run at 
fully thirty miles an hour. 

From an inn named after an hound, we pass 
to another in the same county, much more 
curious and antique in its thatched roof 
gables and old furniture, which keeps green 
the memory of a splendid racehorse. The 
Smoker at Plumbley has nothing to do 
with tobacco. The portrait of the old horse, 
together with the arms of Sir George Leicester, 
father of the first Baron de Tabley, owner of 
the horse, have been painted on the signboard 
by the daughter of Lady Leighton Warren, a 
member of this family. 

Inns are no longer betting centres, but their 
owners are keenly interested in sport, and 
many jovial souls still notch calendars by 
racing events, referring to some local episodes 
as having occurred " in the year when Stick- 
phast won the Derby." Although the Run- 
ning Horse was a Hanoverian emblem, most 
of the houses of this name within a few miles 
of Epsom must owe their origin to the racing 
fraternity. The old Running Horse at Sand- 
ling, near Maidstone, so students of Dickens 
declare, suggested Mr. Pickwick's adventure 

142 Old Country Inns 

with the eccentric steed, hired for the benefit 
of Mr. Winkle. 

Bowls is still almost as favourite a pastime 
at the old inns as it was in the days of Sir 
Francis Drake. In East Anglia the greens 
are often of remarkable size and beautifully 
kept. The finest bowling green in the South 
of England is, we believe, that behind the 
Queen's Head at Hawkhurst, an old-fashioned 
house to be visited for its sweet situation 
and cosy arrangements as well as for the 
almost unique collection of old furniture 
gathered together by the late Mr. Clements. 
On the lawn of the Anchor at Hartfield, a 
game is in vogue called " Clock Golf/' which 
we have seen nowhere else, but which 
possesses its attractions. 

It is a traditional habit among prize- 
fighters when they retire on their laurels to 
assume the management of a tavern, where 
their reputation makes them efficient in main- 
taining order ; but the sedentary style of 
life usually produces too much adipose 
tissue for perfect health and happiness. Old 
cricketers also drift into the same haven. 
Indeed, the public-house has contributed 
many of the best exponents of the national 
game. William Clarke, the father of modern 

Sports and Pastimes 143 

cricket, and first secretary of the famous All 
England Eleven, kept the Trent Bridge Inn 
at Nottingham; Noah Mann, a famous 
Sussex player, and one of the heroes of the 
Hambleden Club, came from an inn at North 
Chapel, near the Surrey border of the county. 
He is said to have once made ten runs with 
one hit. At Mitcham, nursery alike of 
vegetation and of Surrey cricket, every 
publican is a cricketer of repute. Bat and 
Ball, Cricketers, and similar signs are, of 
course, to be met with everywhere. 

At the Swan, Ash Vale, close to Basing- 
stoke Canal, and at present kept by Mr. John 
Tupper, the well-known army trainer, there 
still remains one of the last rat-pits of 
course, now not utilized for the sport. Rat- 
ting survived cock-fighting for a time, the usual 
method being to turn a dog in with a number 
of rats, which he was expected to kill within 
a given number of minutes. The pit was 
about six feet in diameter with a high un- 
climbable rim either of wood or polished 

A more humane, but very exciting rough- 
and-tumble competition may occasionally be 
witnessed in the public-houses of some east- 
end districts, and is entitled " Boot hunting. 1 ' 

144 Old Country Inns 

Various individuals who pay an entrance fee 
of perhaps sixpence, group themselves on a 
platform at the end of the room, and remove 
their footgear which are put into a barrel, 
shaken up, and then deposited in a heap. 
The signal is given, each man scrambles for 
his own property, and to the first who suc- 
ceeds in getting his boots on the prize is 
awarded. Sometimes the competitors are 
chosen by the audience whose " gate-money " 
provides the trophy. 

We can hardly trace the sites even of the 
inns and alehouses between Ware and Totten- 
ham mentioned in the " Compleat Angler." 
But, like old Isaac Walton, the modern piscator 
loves to sample " the good liquor that our 
honest forefathers did use to drink of, 
which preserved their health, and made them 
to live so long and to do so many good deeds ! " 
The Talbot has disappeared from Ashbourne 
on the Dove, but there are " other inns as 
good/' The Isaac Walton Inn, on the Dove, 
has been for many years a favourite resort 
of anglers. On the banks of the Thames, 
Kennet, Arun, or Great Ouse, there are 
hostelries in which anglers much do con- 
gregate at eventide during the season ; on 
their walls gigantic trout (suspected by the 

Sports and Pastimes 145 

stranger to be modelled in plaster), float in 
most lifelike attitude within a sea of painted 
glass. And we know of snug bar parlours in 
the backwoods of Bermondsey, Finsbury, and 
Bethnal Green, whither about nine o'clock 
men laden with rods and heavy baskets or 
sacks may be observed hurrying along to be 
in time for the " weighing in." 

The inn yards of Bishopsgate and South- 
wark witnessed the early performances of the 
English drama ; and the auditorium of the 
theatre takes its form from the tiers of 
galleries surrounding the " pit " which the 
players found there. Music halls have also 
grown up from the impromptu concerts in 
the taverns. The older music halls, like the 
Oxford, Middlesex, or Deacon's, were twenty 
years ago simply public-houses with a hall 
behind them, where a chairman, armed with a 
hammer to maintain silence, announced each 
performer by name and arranged the order 
of the programme. 

Many inns contain museums. At the Mar- 
quis of Granby, near New Cross Station, there 
is a magnificent collection of hunting-knives, 
rifles, etc. The late Mr. Frank Churchill, of 
the White Lion, Warlingham, displayed in 
the ancient chimney-corner of that house 

146 Old Country Inns 

gridirons, spits, and domestic utensils of 
ancient pattern, and Mr. Alfred Churchill 
had a similar museum at the White 
Hart, at Bletchingley. 

For some unknown reason the police are 
discouraging these museums, and in some 
districts publicans are warned against har- 
bouring games of any kinds. Even good old 
English manly pastimes like bowls and 
skittles are under the ban of the licensing 

The other day we discussed the matter 
with an old yeoman farmer, while we watched 
a quartette of young fellows playing a kind of 
bagatelle. He declared that the effect of 
this policy, now so sedulously pursued by the 
police, of depriving public-house frequenters 
of any species of recreation whatever, was 
fast driving young men into the political clubs 
where extravagant gambling and hard drink- 
ing, especially of spirits, was the fashion. 
Many promising careers had been ruined in 
this way and this we may corroborate from 
our own experience in various towns. With 
tears in his eyes the old man confessed to us 
that his vote had blackballed his own boy 
from admission into the local club. The 
total expenditure of the group during a whole 

Sports and Pastimes 147 

evening's amusement at the public -house 
amounted to a sum not exceeding a shilling ; 
perchance at the club they might have been 
tempted to squander away at least half their 
week's earnings. 



JOHN BALL, shut up in the Archbishop's prison 
at Canterbury, fell a'longing for " the green 
fields and the whitethorn bushes, and the lark 
singing over the corn, and the talk of good 
fellows round the alehouse bench.'* The 
same craving for the real things of life comes 
to every creative genius fretting against class 
restrictions. Sir Walter Scott, when staying 
with Wordsworth at Grassmere, usually man- 
aged to give his host the slip in order to spend 
an hour or two in the Swan beyond the village ; 
just as Addison had fled the splendid state 
of Holland House for the Old White Horse in 
Kensington Road. Either this wayside inn 
or the Red Lion at Hampton, was the scene 
of the historic drinking bout between Addison 
and Pope, which so upset the latter's digestion 
and sense of dignity that he ever afterwards 
described the great essayist as a terrible 
drunkard. The Bull and Bush, in North End 
Hampstead, now chiefly patronised by holiday 
makers on account of its attractive tea-gardens, 


150 Old Country Inns 

was another resort where Addison, Dryden, 
Steele, and the rest of the famous galaxy of 
wits loved to gather. It is said also to have 
once been the country seat of Hogarth. 

More temperate in their devotion to the 
flowing bowl, but scarcely less brilliant in their 
abilities, were the company who fifty years ago 
used to visit the Bull at Woodbridge. George 
Borrow, the gipsy wanderer ; Edward Fitz- 
gerald, the translator of " Omar Khayyam/* 
and Charles Keene, the Punch Artist, were 
among the number. Old John Grout, who 
kept the house, was himself an odd character. 
When Lord Tennyson came to stay with Fitz- 
gerald, at Woodbridge, the latter remarked 
to Grout that the town ought to feel itself 
honoured. John was not a student of poetry, 
and inquired of Mr. Groome (whose son tells 
the story in " Two Suffolk Friends ") who was 
the gentleman that Mr. Fitzgerald had been 
talking of. " Mr. Tennyson, the poet-laureate/' 
was the reply. " Dissay," said John, hazily ; 
"anyhow, he didn't fare to know much about 
bosses when I showed him over my stables !" 
In these stables there is a tomb to the memory 
of George Carlow, who was buried there in 
1738, at his own special desire. 

Many, who afterwards rose to eminence in 

The Inns of Literature and Art 151 

the world of art and letters were born at inns. 
David Garrick's birthplace was at the Raven 
at Hereford ; at the Garrick Theatre, hard by, 
Kitty Clive, Mrs. Siddons and Kemble made 
some of their early successes. William Cobbett 
was born at the Jolly Farmer at Farnham; 
while at the little Wheatsheaf in Kelvedon, now 
disused, but still retaining the wrought-iron 
bracket from which the sign used to swing, 
Charles Spurgeon, the famous preacher, first 
saw the light. Cardinal Wolsey's father is 
generally described as a butcher, but he was 
also a tavern-keeper at Ipswich. Like dear 
old Tom Hughes, who kept the Black Lion 
at Walsingham, a few years ago, he combined 
with his inn, branch shops for the sale of 
bread and meat. It was at the Black Bear 
at Devizes, then kept by his father, that Sir 
Thomas Lawrence first discovered his talent 
as a painter. We may add that a personage 
with an entirely different kind of reputation 
Dick Turpin was born at the Crown, 
Hempstead, Essex. 

A very large number of inns all over 
England are dedicated to the memory of 
Shakespeare ; in fact, a print dated 1823 shows 
the chief portion of the house where the Bard 
was born at Stratford-on-Avon, as a very 

1 1 (8244) 


Old Country Inns 

picturesque inn the Swan and Maiden Head 
with a portly, good-humoured landlord 
standing in the doorway and inviting visitors 
to enter and drink a bumper . Of Shakespeare* s 

Sir John Falstaff, Newington 

characters, the one best known on the sign- 
boards is Sir John Falstaff. There are three 
Falstaff inns on the Dover road. The first is 
that on Gad's Hill, the scene of the hero's most 
glorious exploit, and incidentally connecting 
him with his prototype, Sir John Oldcastle. 
At Canterbury, just outside the West Gate, 
the Falstaff is a fine old-fashioned comfortable 
house with some very good linen-fold panelling. 

The Inns of Literature and Art 153 

But we love best to linger over the Sir John 
Falstaff at Newington, near Sittingbourne. 
The projecting upper storey, bracketed out on 
grinning satyrs, the excellent portrait of the 
fat knight on the signboard, the noble cornice, 
and the rakish lines of the great red-tiled roof 
all give the distinctive character of the best 
Jacobean work. Standing amid its homelier 
neighbours in the village street, it looks like 
a rollicking cavalier who has come down in the 
world and is just a little bit ashamed of being 
seen in such company. His finery is sadly 
faded ; he is obliged now to shift for himself 
and pick up what he can among these com- 
mon people. If we wait awhile, he will take 
us aside, and confide in us about his doings, 
when he could share in the gay monarch's 
revels with the best of them. Ben Jonson, 
Garrick, and Dr. Syntax, are almost the only 
other literary or dramatic signs that are at 
all common. 

The Three Pigeons at Brentford was, in all 
likelihood, one of the haunts of Shakespeare, 
and was certainly frequented by Ben Jonson, 
who mentions it in the " Alchymist," as also 
does Thomas Middleton in " The Roaring 
Girl." At this time the landlord was John 
Lowin,of the Globe Theatre, said to have been 

154 Old Country Inns 

the original creator of Falstaff in the " Merry 
Wives of Windsor/' and of the part of 
Henry VIII. He died in great poverty during 
the Commonwealth and the inn has lately 
been rebuilt. 

Whether the Bell at Edmonton is really the 
house at which John Gilpin ought to have 
dined is a controversial point, in spite of the 
graphic portrait of the hero on his mettlesome 
steed. More authentic is the fact that, at the 
Bell, Charles Lamb was in the habit of taking 
a parting glass with his friends before seeing 
them off by the London coach. 

The White Swan at Henley-in-Arden, and 
the Red Lion at Henley, dispute the claim to 
having inspired William Shenstone's poem 
" Written at an Inn." Dr. Johnson decided 
in favour of the latter, and would repeat with 
emotion the concluding verse which was 
scratched in the inn window : 

" Whoe'er has travelled life's dull round 

Where'er his stages may have been, 
May sigh to think he still has found 
The warmest welcome at an inn." 

By way of antithesis we subjoin the follow- 
ing poem on a window in the Star and Garter 
Sit Brighton: 

The Inns of Literature and Art 155 


Slept Here 

October the 1st 

Last Year." 

In the earlier chapters of " The Cloister 
and the Hearth/' a variety of characteristic 
mediaeval inns are described, with much 
archaeological accuracy and also with a sly 
satirical humour. " Like Father, like Son/' 
is a proverb very true in the unchanging 
byways of Central Europe. Charles Reade is 
for ever giving us graphic touches regarding 
the eccentricities and shortcomings of Black 
Forest and Burgundian inns of our own time. 
Delightful, too, is the scene at the Pied Merlin 
in Conan Doyle's " White Company," and we 
appreciate it none the less that some of the 
appointments at Dame Eliza's hostelry were 
scarcely likely to be found in a New Forest 
inn so early as the reign of Edward III. 

For the coaching inns recourse must be had 
to the pages of " Joseph Andrews," " Tom 
Jones," and " Pickwick," and for the smaller 
class of inns, " The Old Curiosity Shop." 
Fielding and Dickens are each inimitable in 
their way ; the earlier novelist concentrates 
on humanity in its many sorts and conditions ; 
Dickens, on the contrary, revels in surrounding 

156 Old Country Inns 

details. He loves to dally with every smoke- 
stained beam, lattice-window, or row of 
battered pewter pots and blue mugs, before 
ushering in the motley throng who gather 
round the tap-room fire, or the fine lady and 
gentleman in the smartly-appointed chaise 
whom the landlord receives so obsequiously. 

Many of the best scenes in old comedies 
are laid in the inns. When they were a 
general place of resort for all classes, including 
men of rank and fortune, they naturally lent 
themselves to the unexpected meetings and 
odd blunders which serve to make up a 
farcical plot. County, racing and hunting 
balls were all held in the principal inn of a 
town ; just the opportunity for a needy 
adventurer to introduce himself by imper- 
sonation or otherwise. The details of the 
scheme are arranged in the Coffee Room ; 
and landlord or waiter supply the necessary 
information enabling the lover to pose suc- 
cessfully as Simon Pure. Then, again, the 
audience were familiar with the surroundings 
and were easily drawn into sympathetic 
interest. Waiter, boots, and ostler were all 
valuable properties to be utilized in supplying 
the humorous element as occasion served. 

George Colman, the younger, chose for much 

The Inns of Literature and Art 157 

of the action of his play, " John Bull, or the 
Englishman's Fireside/' a little wayside inn 
on the Cornish border. Sir Walter Scott 
praised this comedy as " by far the best 
example of our later comic drama. The 
scenes of broad humour are executed in the 
best possible taste ; and the whimsical, yet 
native characters, reflect the manners of 
real life/' Not the least pleasing of these is 
Denis Brulgruddery, the warm-hearted im- 
pulsive landlord of the Red Cow. And so it 
ever is. We associate the inn with genial 
comfort and old English hospitality ; the 
sight of it kindles every good sentiment of 
human kindness within us, and we hail with 
enthusiasm the reconciliation of father and 
child, the union of two constant lovers, and 
happiness restored all round. There is nothing 
so successful on the stage as an inn scene. 

Artists have also shared in the making of 
the inns. A host of signboards are attributed 
to Hogarth or that eccentric and profligate 
genius, George Morland. Isaac Fuller was 
another eminent painter who turned his tal- 
ents in this direction. The Royal Oak sign 
at Bettws-y-Coed, now in the possession of 
the Willoughby d'Eresby family, was painted 
by David Cox, the George and Dragon at 

158 Old Country Inns 

Hayes, in Kent, by Millais. Outside the 
King's Head at Chigwell the Maypole of 
" Barnaby Rudge " hangs a portrait of 
Charles I, by Miss Herring, while the sign of 
the George and Dragon at Wargrave is the 
work of Mr. George Leslie, R. A. St. George 
is depicted as taking refreshment after the 
battle out of a tankard of respectable size. 
The old inn by the bridge at Brandon on the 
Little Ouse, and the Old Swan at Fittleworth 
on the Arun, are full of paintings by modern 
artists ; the latter has one room ornamented 
with panel pictures by various hands, and 
the sign (too delicate to hang outside) was 
painted by Caton Woodville. There was at 
Horncastle, in Lincolnshire, a signboard 
painted by Hilton, the Royal Academician, 
which hung over the inn door for over forty 
years, finally being taken down and sold, 
on a change of tenancy. 

Mr. J. F. Herring, the animal painter, used 
to relate how he once painted a signboard for 
a carpenter employed by him. The car- 
penter afterwards took a beer shop and put 
the sign, which represented the " Flying 
Dutchman/' over the door. Eventually he 
sold it for 50, and with the money emigrated 
to Australia. 

The Inns of Literature and Art 159 

Most old inns contain pictures more or less 
valuable, or at least old sporting prints. 
Few can compare in this respect with the 
George at Aylesbury, rebuilt about 1810, 
which from time immemorial has possessed 
a remarkable collection of good pictures ; 
portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds and My tens, 
besides some well executed copies of Rubens, 
Raphael and others. It is supposed to have 
been brought from Eythorpe House, demol- 
ished in the early years of the nineteenth 



THE antiquarian magazines of the last cen- 
tury are full of correspondence and ingenious 
explanations of such signs as the Pig and 
Whistle y Cat and Fiddle, or Goat in Boots. 
Many of the suggestions offered are far more 
whimsical in character than the devices they 
profess to explain. " Cat and Fiddle " is 
supposed to be a corruption of Caton Fiddle, 
a certain incorruptible Governor of Calais. 
Pig and Whistle has been traced to " Peg and 
Wassail/' with reference to the pegged 
tankards formerly passed round for the loving 
cup, each guest being expected to drink down 
to the next peg. " Pix and Housel," in honour 
of the Blessed Sacrament, or the Danish Ave 
Maria, and "Pige Washail" have also been 
suggested by the learned. Mr. T. C. Croker, in 
his " Walk to Fulham," attempted to derive 
the Goat in Boots at Fulham from der Goden 
Boode y the " Messenger of the Gods," or 
Mercury ; the idea being that the house 
was originally a posting inn. The Pig and 


Signs and Signboards 161 

Whistle may possibly be a rustic corruption 
of the Bear and Ragged Staff on a somewhat 
faded signboard. 

Animals masquerading in human attire or 
performing human actions were a favourite 
conceit of the mediaeval craftsman, as may 
be seen by the carvings on the stalls of our old 
cathedrals. Most likely we owe these humor- 
ous signs to the sign-painter himself. He 
was commissioned to design an advertise- 
ment that would puzzle inquisitive people 
and so attract customers. 

The Goat and Compasses is supposed to be 
a corruption of a motto set up over inns 
during the period of puritan tyranny, " God 
encompasses us" ; Bag of Nails of " Bac- 
chanals." In default of better explanations 
we must accept these. Until recently a public 
house existed in St. James* Street, called the 
Savoy Weepers a name which might open up 
an endless mystification if we did not know 
that the house was previously occupied by 
the S avoir Vivre Club. The Goose and Grid- 
iron is, according to the Tatler, a parody of 
the favourite trade-mark of early music 
houses, the Swan and Harp ; while the 
Monster in Pimlico may have been the monas- 
tery inn, built during the time that the 

162 Old Country Inns 

monks of Westminster Abbey farmed this 

Why Not, and Dew Drop Inn are, of course, 
invitations to the wayfarer ; Bird in Hand 
and Last House, or Final, suggestion that he 
should not waste his opportunities to imbibe. 

In the village of Sennen, Cornwall, is one 
of the best known inns, having for its sign 
the First and Last, which is quite ob- 
viously not intended as a limit to the drinker. 
It has reference, of course, to the fact that if 
you should be journeying to the south-west 
the inn will be the last one you will meet with 
before reaching the sea, whereas it will be the 
first should your journey be by ship coming 
eastward. As a matter of actual experience, 
hundreds of ships which in the course of a 
year " pick up " the light at Land's End 
have not been in sight of a public -house for 
months, during which they have been crossing 
thousands of miles of ocean. So that in the 
case of sailors working these particular vessels 
the name of the inn has a very appealing 

He would be a bold man who would venture 
to assert positively which is the best -known inn 
in London ; but if the map be consulted, the 
Elephant and Castle will be seen to occupy a 

Signs and Signboards 163 

position at the junction of several great roads 
to the south, and if the volume of traffic 
which must daily go past the doors is con- 
sidered, it needs very little more to convince 
most people that the Elephant is probably 
better known by name at all events, than any 
other public -house within the four-mile radius 
of Charing Cross. In coaching times the 
inn was passed by every traveller bound for 
the south-east, and some authorities have 
contended that when Shakespeare recom- 
mended that " In the south suburbs at the Ele- 
phant is best to lodge, " * he had in his mind 
the celebrated hostelry of Newington Butts. 
But this is probably a mistake, for the 
Elephant and Castle did not come into exist- 
ence until long after Shakespeare's time. In 
1658, the ground upon which it now stands 
was not built upon, but probably the first 
inn on the site came into existence about 
twenty years later. In 1824, the inn was 
rebuilt, and since then there have been many 
additions and alterations which have got 
farther and farther away from the original 
building as it was in the seventeenth century. 
The Elephant and Castle, as far as the anti- 
quarian is concerned, is now merely a curious 
1 "Twelfth Night" ; Act III, Sc. 3. 

164 Old Country Inns 

name. Another extremely rare sign in Lon- 
don is the Sieve, which as late as 1890 stood 
in the Minories. In 1669 there was a Sieve in 
Aldermanbury, but more is known of the one 
in the Minories. It was referred to in the 
" Vade Mecum for Malt Worms," 1715, and 
was then considered one of the oldest and 
most noted public-houses of London. It 
adjoined Holy Trinity Church. Under- 
neath were crypt-like cellars which may 
originally have had connection with the 
adjoining convent of the nuns of St. Clare. 
In the records of the Parish of Holy Trinity, 
which was all included within the ancient 
precincts of the convent, there is mention of 
the appointment of a " vitler to the parish/ 1 
On February 13th, 1705, is a record of a vestry 
meeting at the Sieve " about agreeing to pull 
down the churchyard wall." On this 
occasion so serious was the discussion that as 
much as six shillings was spent in refresh- 
ments before the matter was settled. A good 
deal of speculation on the origin of the name 
of this old inn has been indulged in, one 
solution being that the chalk foundations 
in the crypt may have suggested the sign. 
The Metropolitan Railway Company acquired 
the property, and closed the house in 1886, 

Signs and Signboards 165 

before its final disappearance four years 

The Adam and Eve, another common 
London sign, is, we have reason to believe, 
frequently a repainting of the Zodiacal sign 
of the Twins, the city having according to 
astrologers, its ascendant in Gemini, the 

Sign of Fox and Hounds, Barley 

House of Mercury, who rules merchandise and 
all ingenious arts. 

An odd sign to find in the heart of Essex 
is the Whalebone, and in the same county at 
Great Leighs, there is a Saint Anna's Castle, 
which is supposed to stand on the site of a 
hermitage made sacred by the presence of 
some local saint. 

Dean Swift was once asked by the village 
barber of Co. Meath, by whom he was regularly 
shaved, to assist him in the invention of an 

166 Old Country Inns 

inscription for the sign of the Jolly Barber, 
a house which it was intended to conduct 
as an inn and a barber's shop combined. 
Swift at once composed the following couplet, 
which remained under the painted sign 
depicting a barber with a razor in one hand 
and a full pot in the other, for many years : 

" Rove not from pole to pole, but step in here 
Where nought excels the shaving but the beer." 

The Three Loggerheads, generally in the form 
of two silly looking faces and the motto : 

" We three 
Loggerheads be," 

is an attempt to take a mean advantage of 
the unwary spectator. Sometimes two asses 
appear on the signboard with the inscription 
" When shall we three meet again ? " and this 
sign is alluded to by Shakespeare in " Twelfth 
Night/' At Mabelthorpe is a unique sign 
called the Book in Hand. It is not so much 
on account of its name that it is curious, for 
this might have occurred to anyone, particu- 
larly in days when the ability to read was not 
so conspicuously common as it is to-day. 
But the sign itself is so odd. A rudely shaped 
hand and forearm sticks out straight from the 
brick wall and in the hand is an open book 
with three Latin crosses on the right page 

Signs and Signboards 167 

and one on the left. The origin of the sign 
is lost, but it seems obviously to have had 
at one time some ecclesiastical connection. 

Many names of inns have arisen from the 
puns on the landlord or locality. The Black 
Swan in Bartholomew Lane, once a resort 
for musical celebrities was kept by Owen 
Swan, parish clerk of St. Michael's Cornhill. 
The Brace Tavern, in Queen's Bench Prison, 
was opened by two brothers of the name of 
Partridge. Hat and Tun was the sign of a 
public-house in Hatton Garden, and the 
Warbolt in Tun of the little inn at Warbleton, 
in Sussex. At least one Three Pigeons began 
business with a worthy surnamed Pigeon for 
landlord, although this sign is usually derived 
from a coat of arms charged with three martlets. 
According to a correspondent, the Bell Inn 
of a village not far from Oxford was formerly 
kept by John Good, who set up this inscription 
under a gigantic representation of a bell : 

" My name, likewise my ale, is good, 
Walk in, and taste my own home-brewed, 
For all that know John Good can tell 
That, like my sign, it bears the Bell." 

Ben Jonson in the " Alchymist " satirised 
this kind of wit : 

" He shall have a bell that's Abel, 
And by it standing one whose name is Dee 

la (a44) 

168 Old Country Inns 

In a rug gown, there's D and Rug, that's Drug ; 

And right anenst him a dog snarling err, 

There's Dmgger, Abel Drugger. That's his sign." 

The last Honest Lawyer in London has just 
ceased to exist, but there is still an Honest 
Miller at Withersden, near Wye, in Kent. 
It is approached by devious ways and difficult 
to find. Hence perhaps the name. Like the 
Silent Woman, the honest lawyer was repre- 
sented with his head cut off. A very famous 
signboard, said to have been painted by 
Hogarth, was The Man loaded with Mischief, 
in Oxford Street. The man was carrying 
a woman, glass in hand, a magpie, and a 
monkey. Underneath was the rhyme : 
" A monkey, a magpie, and a wife 
Is the true emblem of strife." 

At Grantham, an eccentric lord of the manor 
about a century ago insisted on having all the 
signs of public -houses on his estate painted 
with the political colour which he favoured. 
Thus the town possessed, in 1830, the follow- 
ing : Blue Boat, Blue Sheep, Blue Bull, Blue 
Ram, Blue Lion, Blue Bell, Blue Cow, Blue 
Boar, Blue Horse, and Blue Inn. By way of 
retaliation, a neighbouring landowner and 
political opponent actually named one of his 
houses the Blue A ss. Grantham also can boast 
of the original Beehive Inn with the motto : 

Signs and Signboards 169 

" Stop ! Traveller, this wondrous sign explore, 
And say when thou hast viewed it o'er, 
Grantham, now, two rarities are thine, 
A lofty steeple, and a living sign." 

On Gallows Tree Heath, near Reading, 
there stands a Reformation Inn y somewhat 
grim and tantalizing in its greeting to the 
unfortunate wretches who were led past it to 
execution, and had lost the opportunity to 
profit by the advice. A cynical humour of 
the same description must have suggested 
the Half Brick for the sign of an inn at Worth- 
ing. It is said that the aborigines of some 
towns in England invariably welcome a 
stranger by " heaving half a brick at him." 

The original Hole in the Wall is believed 
to have been either (1) a highwayman's 
retreat, such as the Hole in the Wall in Chandos 
Street, where Claude Duval was captured, or 
(2) an aperture made in the wall of a debtor's 
prison through which charitable people might 
offer gifts of money or victuals to the unfor- 
tunate inmates. At the Hole in the Wall 
in the Borough there is a museum of curiosities 
worth a visit, and another under the railway 
arches of Waterloo Station is a noted depot 
for Petersfield ales, much frequented by rail- 
way men and various odd characters. There 
is to this day a very suggestive hole in the wall 


Old Country Inns 

at Turpin's Cave, a small inn near High 
Beech, Epping Forest. In this hole it is 
commonly believed that the celebrated high- 
wayman hid himself on many occasions when 
hard pressed by the police. The story can 

Sign of Black's Head, Ashbourne 

very easily be believed by anyone with a 
spark of imagination, for the inn lies in a 
secluded nook which even to-day is not at all 
easy to find, in spite of a signboard stuck up 
in the gorse bushes some little distance from 
the road. The hole itself is a kind of arched 
ruin, bricked over, and might at a pinch have 
held Black Bess and her famous rider. 

Almost gone are the heavy frames and 
beams which once stretched across the high- 
ways and effectually proclaimed the name 
and style under which the innkeeper carried 
on his business. On these beams a group of 

Signs and Signboards 171 

swans disported in effigy before the Four 
Swans at Waltham Cross. A fine magpie 
dangled from the centre at Stonham, Suffolk, 
while elsewhere a fox was represented crossing 
the beam and followed by a bevy of hounds. 
There is still remaining such a beam, from the 
centre of which a bell is suspended outside the 
Bell at Edenbridge. Another is still in use 
at Ashbourne, Derbyshire, where the Green 
Man and Black's Head, an old Georgian posting 
house, announces its existence by a long beam 
stretched across the street, supported at one 
end by a pole, the other end running into the 
red brick wall of the building, immediately 
over the typical archway leading to the inn 
yard. The black's head is an effigy in carved 
and painted wood, planted firmly in the centre 
of the beam and looking for all the world 
as if it had only lately been cut off and put 
there to warn other blacks of a similar awful 
fate, if ever they should chance to come 
to Ashbourne. Under the head, suspended 
from the beam is a big framed picture, and a 
small secondary beam on each side has re- 
cently been placed to carry those two terribly 
modern words, " garage " and " petrol." 
One can fancy the old driver of the four-in- 
hand, could he come to life again, scratching 

172 Old Country Inns 

his head in perplexity over the hidden 
mysteries of these literary innovations to the 
familiar sign. Ashbourne, it may be remarked 
in passing, whilst perhaps not glorying in 
" one man one public-house/* is certainly as 
close to that condition of things as any town 
in England. To a stranger visiting Ash- 
bourne in the middle of the week and feeling 
the charm of its quiet old-world streets with 
but few people walking about, it is a matter 
for wonder as to how all the licensed houses 
keep going. But go there on market days and 
note the waggons and farmers* carts standing 
in rows outside every hostelry and the matter 
becomes much more easily understood. 
Ashbourne, like one or two other towns of the 
North Derbyshire and Staffordshire moors, 
has until quite recently been cut off from the 
run of the country's traffic, and is still a market 
centre for a very extensive agricultural dis- 
trict. Within the last year or two a road 
motor service has placed it in rapid and fre- 
quent communication with the county town, 
so that this comparative isolation is likely to 
last very little longer. 

The White Hart at Scole, in Norfolk, once 
had the most expensive and elaborate sign 
of this character ever produced. High above 

Signs and Signboards 


the road it stretched, on one side attached 
to the house, and resting on a brick pier at 
the opposite end across the way. In the centre 
was a noble White Hart, carved in a stately 
wreath, while on each side were no less than 

Sign of White Hart, Witham 

twenty-four allegorical figures in compart- 
ments. The whole was designed by John 
Fairchild, in 1655, and cost 1,057. An 
engraving was published by Martin in 1740. 
By the way, this inn also possessed " a 
very large round bed big enough to hold 

174 Old Country Inns 

fifteen or twenty couples in imitation of the 
great bed at Ware." 

Of existing signs, the most remarkable is 
the Red Lion of Martlesham outside an inn 
which is itself both old and curious. This 
monster, a byword all over Suffolk, was 
probably at one time the figure-head of a 
ship, and local tradition ascribes it to one of 
the Dutch warships destroyed in the battle 
of Sole Bay, fought off Southwold in 1672. 
Outside the Bear at Wantage stands a life- 
like carved bear on a high pedestal ; at the 
Bear at Chelsham, in Surrey, a large white 
bear lurks amongst the shrubs of the front 
garden in a way very startling to timid 
passers-by, especially at dusk. The Swan at 
Great Shefford, in Bucks, has a most effective 
sign, in the form of a large vane representing 
a swan ; while the White Horse at Ipswich, as 
in Mr. Pickwick's time, " is rendered the more 
conspicuous by a stone statue of some 
rapacious animal with flowing mane and tail 
distantly resembling an insane cart-horse, 
which is elevated above the principal door." 

The disused Sun Inn at Saffron Walden, 
built about 1625, has for its sign a noble piece 
of plaster work in the tympanum representing 
the Sun supported by two giants. A curious 

Signs and Signboards 


old piece of carving which displays a white 
swan chained to a tree flanked by the arms of 
England and France forms the sign of the 

Angel Inn, Theale 

Swan Inn at Clare, and probably is intended 
to commemorate some triumph of the House 
of Clarence over the Lancastrians. Another 
beautiful little inn, now disused and sadly 
neglected, the Angel at Theale, has angel heads 
introduced over each of its dainty oriels. 

176 Old Country Inns 

Many of the White Hart inns retain painted 
signboards of quite passable quality. At 
Chelmsford, the animal is carved and rests 
on a projecting bracket. More prominent, 
though not conceived in a very artistic spirit, 
is the White Hart at Witham, cut out and 
painted on a huge piece of sheet copper. 
This is widely known as the most conspicuous 
and telling sign on the road from London to 

The White Hart in the Borough, now con- 
verted into a club in honour of Sam Weller, 
possessed anciently the largest signboard in 
London. Perhaps this is why Jack Cade 
selected it in 1450 for his headquarters. 
Of existing signboards the most elaborate is 
the Five Alls at Marlborough, once a very 
common subject for the tavern picture. The 
first compartment portrays the Queen with 
the label, " I rule all." In the second is a 
Bishop, " I pray for all," Next comes a 
lawyer, " I plead for all," followed by a 
truculent soldier, " I fight for all." The last 
figure is the taxpayer, " I pay for all." Some 
facetious innkeepers added a sixth, the Devil 
with the motto, " I take all ! " This sign with 
local modifications is not unknown outside 
the drinking shops in Holland, and, according 

Signs and Signboards 177 

to Larbert, a characteristic example may be 
seen swinging under the blue sky in the sunny 
street of Valetta in Malta. The largest 
sign we have ever come across is the tile 
painting on the front of the Kentish Drovers in 
the old Kent Road. 

But the number of these quaint and comical 
signs is diminishing every year. The inn- 
keeper plies his trade under more difficult 
conditions and is glad to accept the tempting 
cash offers made to him by collectors. In 
place of the old carved figures or painting, 
last survival of the days when every building 
in a town was distinguished by some badge 
or device, the name of a public-house now 
generally appears written in gilt letters on 
the signboard. Even this is frequently lost 
amid the flaring advertisements of the brewer, 
and of the various brands of whiskey retailed 
in the establishment. In fact, the frequenters 
of such a house of entertainment, especially 
in the London district, are sometimes ignorant 
of its ancient designation, and refer to it either 
by the name of the landlord, or of the whole- 
sale dealer, "Mooney's" or "Guests/* for 
whose business it serves as a local branch. 

Landlords of inns near London are not 
usually very original in their views of life, 

178 Old Country Inns 

and rarely advertise any spark of humour. 
Perhaps they take their duties to the public 
too seriously. Occasionally, however, one 
comes across evidence that the keeper of an 
inn is sufficiently detached in mind as to 
admit within the walls of his house of business 
a jest or two in print. These are usually 
framed and hung up in the bar, and as they 
have never been seen quite new, but are fre- 
quently fly-blown and yellow with age, it 
would seem to follow that the race of face- 
tious landlords has come to an end. In the 
Duke of Wellington Inn, near High Beech, 
Epping Forest, the following rules hang in the 
bar. They are probably from their phraseology 
American in origin, and the second was 
evidently designed as a sarcastic if not 
effectual check upon manners and customs in 
business houses of the States. 


1. A man is kept engaged in the yard to do all the 

CURSING and SWEARING at this establishment. 

2. A Dog is kept to do all the BARKING. 

3. Our Potman or " Quicker Out " has won seventy-five 

prizes, and is an excellent shot with a Revolver. 

4. The UNDERTAKER calls every morning FOR ORDERS. 

5. The Lord helps those who help themselves ; but the 

Lord help those that are caught helping themselves 

Signs and Signboards 179 

This notice hangs in an old frame over the 
door. On an adjoining wall is the following : 


1. Gentlemen upon entering will leave the door open or 


2. Those having no business should remain as long as 

possible, take a chair and lean against the wall ; 
it will preserve the wall and prevent it falling upon 

3. Gentlemen are requested to smoke, especially during 

office hours ; tobacco and segars of the finest brands 
will be supplied gratis. 

4. Spit on the floor, as the spittoons are only for 


5. TALK LOUD or WHISTLE, especially when we are 

engaged. If this has not the desired effect, SING. 

6. If we are in business conversation with anyone, 

gentlemen are requested not to wait until we are 
disengaged, but join us, as we are particularly fond 
of speaking to half a dozen or more at one time. 

7. Profane language is expected at all times, especially 

if ladies are present. 

8. Put your feet on the table, or lean against the desk. 

It will be of great assistance to those who are writing. 

9. Persons having no business to transact will call often 

or excuse themselves. 

10. Should anyone desire to borrow money do not fail 
to ask for it, as we do not require it for business 
purposes, but merely for the sake of lending. 

We copied the following from a placard 
either in the Windmill at Hollingbourne, or 
the Ten Bells at Leeds, in Kent : 

180 Old Country Inns 


Call Frequently, Be Good Company, 

Drink Moderately, Part Friendly, 

Pay Honourably, Go Home Quietly. 

Let these lines be no man's sorrow, pay to-day and 
trust to-morrow. 

In the General Wolfe at Westerham : 

More Shall Trust 

Score I Sent 

for what I 

my And Have 

Do Beer If 

Pay Clerk Brewers 

I " May So 

Must Their My 

And at Groombridge : 

My ale is good, my measure just, 
And yet my friends, I cannot trust. 



WHY is it that haunted inns are so scarce and 
difficult to find ? We have sought for them 
far and wide. During thirty years of wander- 
ings among the old inns, we have retired for 
the night full oft into blackened oak-lined 
chambers with secret sliding panels in the 
walls, or traps in the ceiling, that offered 
golden opportunities for any ghost of enter- 
prise ; rooms where heavy tie-beams and dark 
recesses cast eerie shadows in the moonlight ; 
vast churchlike dormitories with springy 
floors which if one jumped out of bed caused 
the door incontinently to unlatch and open 
in a distinctly ghostlike manner. But no 
supernatural visitor has ever favoured us. In 
vain we have tried the experiment of sleeping 
in bedchambers which the great ones of the 
earth have made memorable, from Queen 
Elizabeth to Dick Turpin. No cavalier 
knight has ever tried to unburden his con- 
science to us, no spectral dame has come to 
moan and wring her hands with grief, no 


182 Old Country Inns 

clanking chains on the stairs, merely the 
peaceful dreamless sleep of the proverbial top. 
The learned in occult lore tell us that the 
astral body must follow the habits of the 
departed to whom it once belonged. It 
would therefore prefer private dwellings to 
the inns which it merely occupied for a night 
or two. Ghosts with a grievance would find 
more congenial occupation in annoying sur- 
viving relatives rather than the passing 
traveller who is not interested in their con- 
cerns. Well-informed and intelligent spectres, 
of course (unless they had some private end 
in view), steer clear of inns altogether. At the 
baronial hall, the ghost is a cherished petted 
heirloom ; the innkeeper regards him as a 
nuisance, driving away the more timid class 
of customers, and in case of trouble might 
call in the parson to exorcise him with bell, 
book and candle. Then, again, in the halcyon 
days for the spooks, say a hundred years ago, 
the traveller generally drank deeply to the 
good of the house. The spectral vision fell 
flat when tested on an individual well 
inoculated with spirit of a more material 
nature. In face of all these discouragements, 
the ghosts, as a rule, left hotels and taverns 

Haunted Inns 183 

One exception is to be found at the Ostrich 
at Colnbrook, a beautiful old Elizabethan 
coaching inn, retaining near the middle of its 
long half-timbered and gabled front, above the 
yard gate, the platform by which " the 
quality " embarked on the coach. It is an 
ideal place for a ghost to take sanctuary, 
with many corridors and low-ceilinged 
chambers, all lined through with carved 
chestnut panelling and twisted pilasters. 
There is a Queen's room, said to have been 
used by Queen Elizabeth while awaiting the 
repair of her coach which had lost a wheel 
crossing the ford. Over the mantelpiece is her 
coat of arms. But chief est of all is the Blue 
Chamber, sacred to the memory of Dick 
Turpin. This ubiquitous villain, so tradition 
states, once leaped from the first floor window 
and escaped into the street when pressed by 
the authorities. 1 

The ghost is also associated with the Blue 
Chamber. His name in the flesh was Thomas 
Cole, and his story is told in a very rare work 
of Jacobean date, published by Thowe, of 

1 Some of the rival establishments at Colnbrook 
contend that the above honours belong to them, and not 
to the Ostrich. 

13 (2244) 

184 Old Country Inns 

Once upon a time in the reign of Henry I, 
the Ostrich was already a flourishing inn kept 
by a man and his wife who were secretly 
robbers and murderers. When a guest of 
substance came along and was considered a 
suitable victim, the husband would remark 
aloud : Wife, I know of a fat pig if you want 
one ! " and she would answer, " Well, put him 
into the pigsty till to-morrow." Then the 
visitor was put into the Blue Chamber above 
the kitchen. Underneath the bed there was 
a trap-door, so arranged that by pulling out 
two iron pins in the kitchen below the whole 
fell down, and plunged the unfortunate man 
into an immense iron brewing-vat filled with 
boiling water. The dead body was then 
thrown into the Colne which flows just behind 
the house. If other travellers asked for the 
murdered man in the morning, they were 
told that he had saddled his horse and ridden 
away before dawn. As a matter of fact, the 
horse had been saddled and taken away to a 
barn, some distance off, where the innkeeper 
cropped and branded it in such a manner 
that recognition was impossible. 

Thomas Cole was a Reading clothier, rich 
and thrifty. He was in the habit of riding to 
London, and sleeping at the Ostrich on his 

Haunted Inns 185 

return journey, when he usually carried a 
considerable sum of money, the proceeds of 
his sales. For a long time Cole had been 
marked out for the cauldron as he usually 
travelled alone. After the manner of most 
sixteenth-century legends Arden of Faver- 
sham, for example the murderers were on 
several occasions balked of their prey at the 
last moment when the guest had been shown 
into the Blue Chamber. Once it was his 
friends, Gray of Gloucester and William of 
Worcester, who also traded with cloth in 
London, and arrived unexpectedly late at 
night. Another time a tavern dispute kept 
the house in commotion ; a third time a 
rumour came that his friend Thomas a 
Beckett's house in Chepe was on fire, and he 
returned to town. On another visit he was so 
ill that a nurse must needs watch by his bedside. 
But at last the opportunity came. Poor 
Thomas was full of forebodings of some 
impending calamity all the evening. He 
dictated his will to the landlord, disposing of 
his wealth, half to his only daughter, half to 
his wife. His goodness failed to move the 
hearts of the greedy couple, and that night 
the bolts were withdrawn and he was scalded 
to death. 

186 Old Country Inns 

When the innkeeper had disposed of the 
body in the river, he found that the merchant's 
horse had broken loose and wandered out into 
the street, where he was lost for the time being. 

Next day, Cole's family, who were expecting 
his return, were alarmed at his non-appearance. 
They sent his servants to make inquiries at 
the inn. The horse was found on the road. 
The servants were not satisfied with the 
explanations given them, and appealed to the 
authorities. On hearing this, the innkeeper 
lost courage and fled secretly away ; but his 
wife was apprehended and confessed the truth. 
It appeared that sixty persons had been done 
away with by means of the falling floor. Both 
the murderers eventually suffered the extreme 
penalties of the law of that period. 

On the credit of the above story the ghost of 
Thomas Cole enjoyed for centuries a magnifi- 
cent notoriety, strutting proudly at midnight 
along the corridors and terrifying any unfor- 
tunate occupant of the Blue Chamber out of 
his wits. But the historical critic has found 
him out. There was no cloth trade either in 
Reading, Gloucester, or Worcester, when 
Henry I was king, nor was Thomas a Beckett 
a friend of his, nor did the Blue Chamber 
itself exist, indeed there were no beds 

Haunted Inns 187 

invented for ages afterwards. Colnbrook is 
not so called because " Cole was in the 
Brook " as was pretended, nor did the river 
Colne receive that name because Cole was in 
it. If the shade of Mr. Cole has not fled away 
altogether, it takes care to hide its diminished 
head in some dark corner or cupboard. For 
at least ten years this detected impostor has 
not shown himself in the Blue Chamber. 
As a matter of fact, the Ostrich was a hospice 
founded by Milo Crispin about 1 130, and given 
in trust to the Benedictines at Abingdon. 

About two hundred years ago the owners of 
the Hind's Head at Bracknell tried to emulate 
the exploits of their rivals at Colnbrook. One 
winter's night a stout-hearted farmer was 
benighted there and spent a merry evening 
round the fire with some jovial companions. 
At last a serving-maid showed him up to his 
chamber. In a scared whisper she warned 
him that he had taken refuge with a band of 
villains. By the side of the bedstead was a 
trap -door leading into a deep well. He threw 
the bed down the trap-door and escaped by 
the window. Then he roused the neighbour- 
hood. The gang of ruffians were captured 
and all executed at Reading. In the well 
were found the bones of all their victims. 

188 Old Country Inns 

The Hind's Head is a pleasant little inn, 
with a fine old garden, and we have slept in 
the haunted room slept the sleep of the just 
undisturbed by visitors of any kind. But we 
have hopes of the Hind's Head, for the present 
occupier is a man of taste, who believes that 
behind the modern wainscot ingle-nooks and 
other treasures of the old time are waiting 
to be unveiled. The trap-door and the well 
are to be seen in situ, and perhaps when the 
old-fashioned appearance of the interior is 
restored, the ghosts may be induced to 

On the western end of Exmoor there is an 
old inn, the A eland Arms, which supernatural 
visitants have rendered uninhabitable. It 
lies deserted and melancholy, with its ruined 
porch and the broken walls of its weed -choked 
garden. The wraith of Farmer Mole haunts 
its precincts. He was returning from South 
Molton market one dark night on a horse 
laden with sacks of lime. Many years 
afterwards horse and man were dug 
out of the bog close by, into which they 
must have wandered in the mist and become 

For the tale of the " Hand of Glory " we are 
indebted to Mrs. Katherine Macquoid, and 

Haunted Inns 189 

will let it be told in her own words, with only 
a few abbreviations. l 

The Spital Inn on Stanmore in Yorkshire, 
was, in the year 1797, a long narrow building 
kept by one George Alderson. Its lower 
storey was used as stabling, for the stage- 
coaches changed horses at the inn ; the upper 
part was reached by a flight of ten or twelve 
steps leading up from the road to a stout 
oaken door, and the windows, deeply recessed 
in the thick walls, were strongly barred with 

One stormy October night, while the rain 
swept pitilessly against the windows and the 
fierce gusts made the casements rattle, George 
Alderson and his son sat over the crackling 
log fire and talked of their gains at Broughton 
Hill Fair ; these gains, representing a large 
sum of money, being safely stowed away in a 
cupboard in the landlord's bedroom. A 
knock at the door interrupted them. 

" Open t' door, lass," said Alderson. " Ah 
wadna keep a dog out sik a neet as this." 

" Eh ! best slacken t* chain, lass," said the 
more cautious landlady. 

The girl went to the door, but when she saw 
that the visitor was an old woman, she bade 

1 " About Yorkshire." 

190 Old Country Inns 

her come in. There entered a bent figure 
dressed in a long cloak and hood ; this last 
was drawn over her face and, as she walked 
feebly to the armchair which Alderson pushed 
forward, the rain streamed from her clothing 
and made a pool on the oaken floor. She 
shivered violently but refused to take off her 
cloak and have it dried. She also refused the 
offer of food or a bed. She said she was on her 
way to the south, and must start as soon as 
there was daylight. All she needed was a 
rest beside the fire. 

The innkeeper and his wife were well used to 
wayfarers ; they soon said " Good-night/' 
and went to bed ; so did their son. Bella, the 
maid, was left alone with the shivering old 
woman, who gave but surly answers to her 
advances, and the girl fancied that the voice, 
though low, was not a woman's. Presently 
the wayfarer stretched out her feet to warm 
them, and Bella's quick eyes saw under the 
hem of the skirt that the stranger wore horse- 
man's gaiters. The girl felt uneasy, and in- 
stead of going to bed, she resolved to stay up 
and watch. 

Presently Bella lay down on a long settle 
beyond the range of the firelight and watched 
the stranger while she pretended to fall asleep. 



Haunted Inns 191 

All at once the figure in the chair stirred, 
raised its head and listened ; then it rose 
slowly to its feet, no longer bent but tall and 
powerful looking ; it stood listening for some 
time. There was no sound but Bella's heavy 
breathing, and the wind and rain beating on the 
windows. Then the woman took from the 
folds of her cloak a brown withered human 
hand ; next she produced a candle, lit it 
from the fire, and placed it in the hand. 
Bella's heart beat so fast that she could hardly 
keep up the regular deep breathing of pre- 
tended sleep ; but now she saw the stranger 
coming towards her with this ghastly chan- 
delier, and she closed her lids tightly. She 
felt that the woman was bending over her, 
and that the light was passed slowly before 
her eyes, while these words were muttered 
in the strong masculine voice that had first 
roused her suspicions : 

" Let those who rest more deeply sleep ; 
Let those awake their vigils keep." 

The light moved away, and through her 
eyelashes Bella saw that the woman's back 
was turned to her, and that she was placing 
the hand in the middle of the long oak table, 
while she muttered this rhyme : 

192 Old Country Inns 

" O Hand of Glory, shed thy light ; 
Direct us to our spoil to-night." 

Then she moved a few steps away and 
undrew the window curtains. Coming back 
to the latter she said : 

" Flash out thy light, O skeleton hand, 
And guide the feet of our trusty band." 

At once the light shot up a bright vivid 
gleam, and the woman walked to the door ; 
she took down the bar, drew back the bolts, 
unfastened the chain, and Bella felt a keen 
blast of cold night air rush in as the door was 
flung open. She kept her eyes closed, how- 
ever, for the woman at that moment looked 
at her, and then drawing something from her 
gown, she blew a long shrill whistle ; she then 
went out at the door and down a few of the 
steps, stopped and whistled again, but the 
next moment a vigorous push sent her spin- 
ning down the steps on to the road below. 
The door was closed, barred and bolted, and 
Bella almost flew to her master's bedroom 
and tried to wake him. In vain, he and his 
wife slept on, while their snores sounded 
loudly through the house. The girl felt 

She then tried to rouse young Alderson, 
but he slept as if in a trance. Now a fierce 

Haunted Inns 193 

battery on the door and cries below the 
windows told that the band had arrived. 

A new thought came to Bella. She ran 
back to the kitchen. There was the Hand of 
Glory, still burning with a wonderful light. 
The girl caught up a cup of milk that stood 
on the table, dashed it on the flame and 
extinguished it. In one moment, as it seemed 
to her, she heard footsteps coming from the 
bedrooms, and George Alderson and his son 
rushed into the room with firearms in their 
hands. As soon as the robbers heard the 
landlord's voice bidding them depart, they 
summoned him to open the door, and produce 
his valuables. Meanwhile young Alderson 
had opened the window, and for answer he 
fired his blunderbuss down among the men 

There was a groan a fall then a pause, 
and, as it seemed to the besieged, a sort of 
discussion. Then a voice called out, " Give 
up the Hand of Glory, and we will not harm 

For answer young Alderson fired again and 
the party drew off. Seemingly they had 
trusted entirely to the Hand of Glory, or else 
they feared a long resistance, for no further 
attack was made. The withered hand 


Old Country Inns 

remained in the possession of the Aldersons 
for sixteen years after. 

This story, concludes Mrs. Macquoid, was 
told to my informant, Mr. Atkinson, by Bella 
herself when she was an old woman. 

-*& ? - .% 


The Ship, Wingham 



ALTHOUGH many of our country inns must 
in their structural substance date from the 
reigns of Edward III and Richard II, and 
some, like the Red Lion at Wingham, and the 
White Hart at Newark, possess features that 
are without doubt fourteenth-century work, 
the earliest examples worthy of extended 
description and classification date from the 
middle of the fifteenth century. The enor- 
mous development of trade, and the wealth 
of the towns at this period, occasioned the 
building of hostelries so magnificent in size and 
so well adapted for comfort that they have 
often served through the strain and stress of 
coaching days. Some of these inns are well 
worthy of being compared with the grand 
parish churches which the same age has 
bequeathed to us. 

Hidden behind a corner of the market- 
place at Aylesbury is the noble old King's 
Head, presenting to a narrow turning its 
broad mullioned windows and Tudor entrance 


Old Inns and their Architecture 197 

gate way > The interior has an open spacious 
staircase, and a lofty tap-room with massive 
oak cornice, and moulded ceiling-ribs meeting 
in a carved boss. It is lighted by a magnifi- 
cent window, the ancient stained glass in which 
represents the arms of England and France 
quartered, the arms of Margaret of Anjou, 
and numerous heraldic and ecclesiastical 
symbols. A strong opinion exists that this 
house was a refectory for the Grey Friars ; 
others have suggested that it was a hall of one 
of the town Guilds, built soon after the 
marriage of Henry VI, in 1444. With regard 
to the glass, there is some question whether 
it was not brought hither from some other 
position, especially as one of the heraldic 
shields has been reversed during insertion. 
But the whole apartment remains very much 
in its original state except that the chimney 
piece is ordinary and modern. 

The yard of the old King's Head is still a 
busy picturesque one on market days, but the 
scene has lost a delightful background since 
the removal of the old galleries. 

Even finer in its carvings and the richly- 
moulded cornice and ceiling beams is the great 
hall in the Bull at Long Melford. Probably 
this is a little earlier in date than the 


Old Country Inns 

Aylesbury house. Unfortunately, the beauty of 
this exquisite hall is marred by glass partitions 

Tap-room at the Bull, Sudbury 

and modern wall decoration of an inferior 
quality. Three miles away at Sudbury there 
is another Bull also of Edwardian date, full 

Old Inns and their Architecture 199 

of quaint nooks and retaining its original 
front, altered only by the insertion of a few 
eighteenth-century window frames. It stands 
near the site of an old friary, but we are in- 
clined to believe that it owes its name, not to a 
monastic origin, but to the Black Bull of the 
House of Clarence. 

Other fine old inns of this period are the 
New Inn at Gloucester, built by Abbot Sea- 
brook from the designs of John Twyning, a 
monk ; the Sun at Peering in Essex, formerly 
a manor-house ; and the George at Glaston- 
bury, unique in the possession of its original 
stone front, bold oriels and richly-traceried 
windows. The Crown at Shipton-under- 
Wychwood has a fine archway in the Per- 
pendicular style and also some mullioned 

Nearer London is the White Hart at Brent- 
wood. " There are few hostelries in Eng- 
land/' says Albert Smith, "into which a 
traveller would sooner turn for entertainment 
for himself and animal than that of the 
White Hart, whose effigy looks placidly along 
the principal street from his lofty bracket, 
secured thereto by a costly gilt chain, which 
assuredly prevents him from jumping down 
and plunging into the leafy glades and 

14 <*44) 

200 Old Country Inns 

coverts within view. And when you enter the 
great gate, there is a friendly look in the old 
carved gallery running above the yard, which 
speaks of comfort and hospitality ; you think 
at once of quiet chambers ; beds into which 
you dive, and sink at least three feet down, 
for their very softness ; with sweet, clean, 
country furniture, redolent of lavender. The 
pantry, too, is a thing to see, not so much 
for the promise of refection which it discloses, 
as for its blue Dutch tiles, with landscapes 
thereon, where gentlemen of meditative 
minds, something between Quakers and 
British yeomen, are walking about in wonder- 
ful coats, or fishing in troubled waters ; all 
looking as if they were very near connections 
of the celebrated pedestrian, Christian, as he 
appeared in the old editions of * The Pilgrim's 
Progress.'" And the White Hart at Brent- 
wood remains a treasure among old inns, 
although fate has not been kind to it during 
the sixty years since little Fred Scattersgood 
found shelter there when running away from 
persecution at Merchant Taylors' School. 
Depressed Tudor arches, framed in dark oak, 
open into each of its two great yards, and an 
early Tudor arcading forms the front of the 
gallery, a retreat from which the fair dames of 

The Kings Head," Loughton, Essex 

Old Inns and their Architecture 201 

Brentwood were wont to watch the cock- 
fightings. Just inside the principal entrance 
will be found some excellent renaissance 

At Alfriston, in Sussex, is the Star Inn, 
small in size, but of the highest interest. On 
brackets on each side of the doorway are 
mitred figures of St. Giles with a hind and St. 
Julian, the patrons of weary wayfarers. A 
beam in the parlour is ornamented with a 
shield and the sacred monogram, and all 
kinds of curious carvings abound in the build- 
ing. In the dining-room upstairs, suggestive 
of an old ship's cabin, the solid construction 
of the fine old roof may be studied. For four 
centuries it has borne its coverings of thick 
Horsham stone slabs without shifting, and 
seems sound enough to resist time for a long 
period to come. Antiquarians have supposed 
this inn to have been erected as a pilgrim's 
hostel, but it seems scarcely probable that 
voyagers, even if they landed at Seaford, 
would take this route either to Canterbury 
or Chichester. It belonged to the Abbey of 
Battle, and the many ecclesiastical carvings 
may be ascribed to the monkish craftsmen. 
Just above a facetious, smiling lion thickly 
bedaubed with red paint, and evidently the 

202 Old Country Inns 

figure-head of a ship stranded on this danger- 
ous coast, is the carver's mark showing the 
date of the building. A rude heraldic design 
on the angle bracket, represents a coronetted 
ragged staff supported by a bear and a lion 
with a twisted tail. In 1495, Edmund Dud- 
ley married Elizabeth Grey, last heiress of 
Warwick the " King-maker." The union of 
the Green Lion with the Bear and Ragged 
Staff was a great event for the Sussex people. 
Edmund Dudley was brought up at Lewes 
Priory, and the hillfolk were proud of his 
success in becoming the chief minister of his 

The Maid's Head at Norwich, so far as the 
older part of this excellent house is concerned, 
is chiefly Elizabethan and early Jacobean ; 
thanks to the careful restoration and the 
valuable collection of old furniture intro- 
duced by Mr. Walter Rye, much of the interior 
helps us to realise what an old inn looked 
like tWo or three centuries ago. But the 
Maid's Head has a more ancient history, and 
can boast of a Norman cellar (a relic of the 
Bishop's Palace), while in the drawing-room, 
a real fifteenth-century fireplace, discovered 
in the thickness of the wall, has been opened 
up and correctly fitted with dogs and hood. 


204 Old Country Inns 

The panelled billiard-room, cosy Jacobean 
bar, and the music gallery in the assembly 
room (like the " Elevated Den " in the Bull 
at Rochester), are all delightful. The only 
fault we can find at the Maid's Head is that 
the old inn-yard, now converted into a lounge, 
has been roofed in with glass at too low a 
level. A much better effect would have been 
attained by introducing the glazed protection 
high above the galleries, as has been 
done in the yard of the Rose and Crown at 

Another Elizabethan inn of note is the Star 
at Great Yarmouth, built by a local merchant, 
William Crowe, at the end of the sixteenth 
century. Here the Nelson Room, so called 
from a famous portrait of Lord Nelson, is 
beautifully panelled in dark oak. When the 
match-boarding was torn down for repairs 
about forty years ago the original fireplace and 
chimney-piece were discovered and restored. 
Over the mantel are the arms of the Merchant 
Adventurers who received their charters from 
Queen Elizabeth. 

The exact date of the Feathers at Ludlow 
is not very easy to determine, but it must 
have existed before 1609, when Rees Jones 
took a lease of the premises ; and the initials 

Old Inns and their Architecture 205 

11 R. I." on the lockplate probably refer to 
him. The splendid carved front with a gallery 
of spiral balusters, the studded door, elaborate 
ceilings, fireplaces and panelling are, of course, 
well known to all students, and illustrated in 
every collection. In 1616, there was a cele- 
bration in Ludlow of " The Love of Wales 
to their Sovereign Prince " ; and from this 
event the inn must have received its name. 
It is the finest of all the Magpie half-timbered 
inns of Cheshire, Herefordshire, and Shropshire. 
By the time these lines are in print the 
famous " Globe Room " at the Reindeer at 
Banbury will have been exported to America, 
but a replica in all respects is to be erected in 
its place. A copy of the ceiling is already at 
the South Kensington Museum. 

Many of the great coaching inns of the 
Queen Anne and Georgian eras are not lacking 
in good proportion and correct classic detail. 
But they lack the individuality of the very 
old inns, and a long description of them would 
interest only the purely architectural stuentd. 
The artist will find effects of colour and light- 
ing in the mouldering brick cornices at Godal- 
ming or Sittingbourne. The old ballrooms 
in county towns, now deserted for the modern 
Town Hall, and made to do duty as store 

206 Old Country Inns 

rooms, are always worth peeping into ; and 
little survivals of our forefathers' habits of 
life are to be detected in the broad staircases 
and deep easy window seats. Hotel archi- 
tecture continued to follow the fashion, and 
even the Greek revival early in the last century 
and the later Italian revival had their influence. 

Some very curious examples of the Sir 
Charles Barry period are to be noted in the 
neighbourhood of the Crystal Palace. Fifty 
years of wear might make us forgive some of 
their eccentricities. Among these, one of the 
best from the architectural point of view, is 
the little Goat House Hotel in South Norwood, 
so named from a famous goat-breeding 
establishment which existed on an island of 
the Croydon Canal. The portico, cluster of 
narrow round-headed windows and slender 
Lombardic tower of this building are not bad, 
albeit hopelessly exotic. At least they show 
an attempt at artistic purpose during the years 
when public-house design was generally 
mechanical and sordid. 

For the very queerest adaptation by a 
local builder of the style in vogue during the 
Greek revival, a visit must be paid to the 
Lisle Castle, on the Dover Road, about three 
miles beyond Gravesend. 

208 Old Country Inns 

Old wayside inns, as a rule, have few archi- 
tectural pretensions ; good sound proportion, 
breadth of roof, bold chimney breasts, and age 
together suffice to make them attractive and 
dignified. Internally the tap-rooms are often 
panelled, and the ceilings crossed by many 
smoke -stained beams ; with here and there 
a welcome chimney-corner. Ingle-nooks and 
chimney-corners are still fairly numerous even 
in the home counties. Surrey can boast of a 
good half-dozen ; The Plough at Smallfield, 
near Red Hill, the Crown at Chiddingfold, 
the White Lion at Warlingham, may be given 
as instances while there are more than one 
in that fine old Elizabethan inn, the Clayton 
Arms, formerly the White Hart at Godstone. 
Leaves Green and Groombridge own two out 
of the many scattered about Kent. In 
Sussex they are too common to require special 



THE genuine traveller is really the man who 
is on business. Even the tourist can scarcely 
lay confident claim to the title. Is he not on 
pleasure bent ? Is he not going from place to 
place merely for the fun of the thing ? Is he 
not really a stay-at-home who has ventured 
out merely to stretch his legs ? Ask the 
keeper of a commercial hotel in a country 
town who his customers are. He will tell you 
that they are commercial travellers and coffee- 
room visitors. The two classes are distinct 
in the mind of mine host. One suggests 
work, the other play. The commercial man 
is bound to travel whether he likes it or not, 
the visitor is a fitful amateur amusing 
himself by a change from the monotony 
of home. 

Whoso looks upon the commercial traveller 
as a modern production created by the railway 
system should listen to the explosion of wrath 
from an old hand on the road, who has had 
time and inclination to examine into the 


210 Old Country Inns 

history of commerce. " What, no traditions ! " 
he will exclaim. " Permit me to call your 
attention once more, my friend, to the parable 
of the Good Samaritan. Who was he, I 
I should like to know, but a commercial 
traveller ? Everything points to it. He was 
travelling in oil and wine, why else should 
he have had them with him ? Notice his 
influence with the host of the inn. He was 
evidently known there. He could give in- 
structions and had enough ready money to 
leave two denarii on his departure, with a 
reminder that he would be coming again later 
on. Then, again, his broad-minded sympathy, 
he was certainly no sectarian. Commercial 
travellers rarely are. Their calling teaches 
them to be friendly to all sorts and conditions 
of men. No traditions ? History is full of 
incidents which show that the man who 
travels with samples is as old as the 

During the eighteenth and early nine- 
teenth century it was the bagman who used 
the inn. Not a term of opprobrium this by 
any means. Think of the immediate fore- 
runner of the present-day commercial, sitting 
astride a sturdy horse with a well-stocked bag 
on each side, facing all weathers, negotiating 

The Commercial Traveller 211 

all roads, and making a journey of a month 
or two at a time. Not an altogether despicable 
figure this. There would be nothing 
squeamish about his methods, perhaps ; 
but he would be equally welcome to his 
customers and mine host as a carrier of news 
or a purveyor of goods. He travelled horse- 
back because the roads he had to go over 
were not always suitable for vehicles. It 
was not till Macadam that the light spring- 
cart became an essential part of his 

Long after the commencement of railways 
the commercial traveller was known as a 
bagman. The Daily Telegraphy in the year 
1865, seemed in doubt as to whether its 
readers would recognize the more modern 
name without some explanation, for it refers 
to " a traveller I mean a bagman, not a 
tourist arriving with his samples at a pro- 
vincial town." At that time, of course, 
commercial travellers were increasing in num- 
bers ; but inasmuch as railways only con- 
nected up towns on certain routes, the light 
cart was used constantly to go the round of 
outlying districts. Indeed, to-day, there are 
commercial travellers who still use the older 
method of progress for work in parts of 

212 Old Country Inns 

counties where railway communication is poor 
and the service of trains intermittent. The 
motor-car is also an occasional means of 
conveyance for travellers. When first it was 
so used, tradesmen looked askance at it as 
being likely to frighten the horses of carriage 

The country inn began to cater specially 
for business men early in the nineteenth 
century, and the establishment of the com- 
mercial room was the ultimate result of the 
special accommodation which innkeepers 
offered to travellers. 

Let no unwary casual visitor, even to-day, 
imagine that all rooms except the bedchambers 
of an inn in a country town are open to him. 
The commercial room is a private apartment 
reserved for privileged representatives of 
business concerns. A ritual has grown up 
which is strictly observed by those whose right 
it is to make use of its many conveniences. 
Notice the formality of greeting which a late 
comer extends to the president of the table 
at the one o'clock dinner. " Mr. President, 
may I be permitted to join you ? " or " Mr. 
President, may I have the honour of joining 
this company ? " " With pleasure, sir/' The 
head of the table invites the company to join 

The Commercial Traveller 213 

him at wine. " Well, gentlemen, what do you 
say to a bottle of sherry to begin with ? " 
And later on " Now gentlemen, suppose we 
have a bottle of port." Here is indicated a 
spaciousness of life, a dignity and ease which 
the rapid pushful customs of to-day are hust- 
ling into the past. But although the long 
wine dinners in the commercial room, where 
every traveller was considered good for at 
least a pint, are almost over, the ceremonial is 
still to a great extent kept up. At one time 
not so long ago, a diner paid for his share 
of the wine consumed whether he drank it or 
not ; but the spread of teetotalism, the 
establishment of Temperance Hotels and the 
gradual curtailment of the time spent on 
dinner, as well as the keen competition which 
compelled every man on the road to make as 
much of the afternoon as he did of the morning, 
led to a freer personal liberty in the con- 
sumption of and payment for liquor. Now- 
adays, a commercial traveller orders and pays 
for what he likes. There is a generally 
understood rule that the traveller longest 
in the hotel shall officiate as president, and 
should an entirely fresh set of arrivals enter 
the commercial room at dinner-time, the first 
to come in takes the head of the table as 

214 Old Country Inns 

president , or chairman, as he is more commonly 
called to-day. The custom of toasting the 
Sovereign at dinner, at one time common, 
has now fallen into disuse. In places where 
the Sunday commercial dinner is still an 
institution return tickets on the railways at 
a single fare, and express trains have largely 
done away with it the old time formalities 
are still kept up, for Sunday is a day which 
admits of plenty of leisure and opportunity for 
ceremonial. Grace used to be pronounced by 
the president, and a story goes that on one 
occasion perchance on many subsequent 
occasions at a suggestion from one of the 
diners that Mr. President should " now 
say grace/' the head of the table arose 
and inquired, " Is there a clergyman 
present ? No ? Thank God/' and resumed 
his seat. 

One good custom which still survives and 
is likely to do so, is the penny collection in the 
Commercial Room for the Commercial 
Travellers' Schools and the Commercial 
Travellers' Benevolent Association. This col- 
lection is taken daily at every dinner in the 
commercial room all over the country, and 
it is largely from the proceeds that these 
institutions are supported. A sidelight on 

The Commercial Traveller 215 

custom may be observed in the fact that in 
many hotels now the collection is taken at 
breakfast to ensure every traveller being 
present. The midday dinner became less 
well attended, and this led to a serious 
diminution in the receipts when once travellers 
began to use restaurants and take advantage 
of local travelling facilities to visit customers 
at some distance from headquarters. It is 
common for the landlord of the inn to take 
charge of the money collected. The president 
of the table enters the amount, divided into 
equal portions into two books and fixes his 
initials, the proprietor of the establishment, 
on the annual remittance to the Association, 
receiving a votes allotment which can be 
utilized on behalf of any applicants for the 
privileges of the two philanthropic bodies. 

No one is permitted to smoke in the com- 
mercial room until after 9 p.m., a rule which 
is observed far more strictly than those 
unacquainted by actual experience with the 
traveller's life might think. The custom of 
using slippers of the inn, which indispens- 
able " Boots " keeps often at his own expense, 
is peculiar to the commercial room, though 
many travellers now carry their own foot 
wear for the fireside with them. At the 

15 (2244) 

216 Old Country Inns 

Red Horse, l Stratford-on-Avon, " Boots " is 
credited with having as fine a selection of 
comfortable slippers as is to be found in the 

Convenience for those who use the room led 
to the provision of a big table in the centre, 
with small writing-tables round the walls. 
In old inns this simple method of furnishing 
is still retained ; but more pretentious estab- 
lishments now have a separate writing-room. 
Upon the landlord rests the responsibility of 
providing many small details in equipment, 
such as books of reference, time-tables, ink- 
stands, paper and pens. At the Old Steyne 
Hotel, Brighton, the landlord himself an old 
Commercial even goes to the length of pro- 
viding an open box of penny and halfpenny 
stamps which travellers may take from as they 
will, paying for what they use by placing the 
money in another box which stands close by. 
Probably in no other room of an inn could such 
a convenience be extended without abuse. At 

1 Larwood and Hotten, in " The History of Sign- 
boards," state that the sign of the Red Horse in their day 
was almost extinct. Longfellow's description of " The 
Wayside Inn " contains the lines : 

" And half effaced by rain and shine, 
The red horse prances on the sign." 

The Commercial Traveller 217 

the same hotel a special stand of well-selected 
canes is always kept for travellers who may 
wish to use them in their walks of relaxation 
on the front. 

Beyond these small matters of detail of 
equipment the commercial room has little 
of interest. Hear the description of the 
author of " The Ambassadors of Commerce/' 
who prefaces what he has to say with the 
remark that " the cosiness and comfort of 
the commercial room in the old -fashioned hotel 
are by no means due to its architectural form, 
its size, ventilation, or adaptation to its 
special purposes most of them having none 
of these requisites but to its association/ 1 

etc " The room it self is not hung 

with choice works of art in either oil or water 
colours/' We seem, by the way, to have seen 
many a terrible old oleograph. " The pro- 
prietor being more desirous of advertising 
noted whiskys and popular bitter ales, he 
covers his walls with framed advertisements 
of these beverages. These, with a coloured 
print of the Commercial Travellers' Schools 
at Pinner, and a notice of the dinner hour, 
complete the picture. Add to the same a 
dozen or more half-dried overcoats, mackin- 
toshes, whips, rugs, hats of all conceivable 

218 Old Country Inns 

shapes, and you have some idea of the orna- 
mentations and fine art decoration of an old- 
fashioned commercial room/ 1 Not an alto- 
gether unattractive picture either. It smacks 
of the old mid- Victorian times when mahogany 
and horsehair were the chief stock in trade of 
the furnisher. A day may come when this 
much abused combination of woodwork and 
upholstery will be sought after. Stranger 
things have happened. Mahogany and horse- 
hair chairs and sofas are rapidly approaching 
that age limit beyond which they will certainly 
become interesting, and one can see in 
imagination the advertisements of the second- 
hand dealers who will describe them as 
" genuinely old/' In that day many an old 
commercial room will be made to yield up 
its treasures to the insatiable greed of collec- 
tors. It is not uncommon, however, to find 
odd pieces of eighteenth-century furniture 
in the travellers' room to-day. We have 
come across several old sideboards which 
were obviously of not later date than 
Sheraton's time, though in all probability the 
famous cabinet-maker had but little to do 
with their origin. 

It is the experience of most commercial 
travellers that the temperance hotel, quite 

The Commercial Traveller 219 

apart from the fact that it supplies no alcoholic 
liquors, is only very rarely comparable to the 
fully-licensed house. Tradition may have 
something to do with the comfort of the old 
inn, and temperance hotels have no tradi- 
tions whatever. Their inception was due to a 
protest, and even to-day, with the temperance 
movement so well understood and appreciated, 
the " hotels " which advertise themselves as 
being dogmatically averse to a particular 
form of refreshment, more often than not 
seem unable adequately to provide comforts 
about which there can be no question what- 
ever. We have known many temperance 
hotels which began with a flourish of trumpets 
and a long list of influential patrons ; a few 
years later they had become slovenly, dis- 
reputable, and even in one or two cases, 
immoral. An inn may have peculiarities, it 
may have character through history and 
old associations, but one thing it should 
certainly never possess, and that is a narrow 



WHATEVER developments may be in store in 
the future will depend almost entirely as to 
how far the licensing authorities and the 
various bodies formed for the purpose of 
furthering the cause of temperance, to say 
nothing of trade protection societies, can 
sink their differences and come to some sort 
of understanding as to the best type of inn 
for public convenience. Some temperance 
reformers have dreamt of a land without 
public -houses, and even to-day it is not at all 
uncommon to hear a lecturer in his enthusiasm 
for the cause of total abstinence express 
the wish that every drop of intoxicating liquor 
in the country could be run into the sewers 
to-morrow, and every public -house at the same 
time have its shutters put up. Of course 
such a dream is impossible of fulfilment, and 
by far the bulk of English people are heartily 
glad it is so. On the other hand, there is a 
small body of opinion which thinks that public - 
house licences should be dispensed with 


The New Inn and Its Possibilities 221 

altogether, that anybody should be permitted 
to sell intoxicating spirits if he thinks fit, and 
that the removal of restriction would tend 
towards temperance. This also is a condition 
of things which is not in the range of practical 

What, however, does seem a hopeful possi- 
bility is that a middle course should become 
more generally accepted in the direction of 
improvement of public-houses and their 
conduct, not for the sake of " the trade " on 
the one hand, nor for the temperance societies 
on the other, but for the benefit of the public. 
On the whole, the number of people, even in 
the temperance ranks, who look upon the 
public-house as of the devil, to be destroyed 
wherever possible, is very small, and it is 
also fair to say that among publicans the 
attitude of mind which regards the possession 
of a licence as merely permission to sell as 
much intoxicating liquor as possible is becom- 
ing rarer every day. The trade has been 
forced, not without some grumbling, to re- 
cognize tea as a form of liquid refreshment 
which may legitimately be called for by the 
traveller ; and although there are still, in 
out of the way country districts, wayside inns 
where the kettle never seems to boil, and, 

222 Old Country Inns 

according to the veracious landlord, no fire 
is ever kept up in the afternoon, it is usually 
easy to obtain tea on demand in most licensed 
houses. What has led to this no doubt is 
the discovery that tea may be provided at 
a profit. 

Of late years traffic on the turnpike road 
has become thicker and thicker. But the 
travellers of to-day are not those of a hundred 
or even fifty years ago, any more than they 
are the pilgrims of the thirteenth century. 
No use offering them strong ale for breakfast 
or rum punch at every halt. As well might 
one hawk the metal charms which found such 
ready sale seven hundred years ago on the 
great roads to holy shrines. The modern 
pilgrim comes on motor-car and bicycle and 
the relic of his trip is the nimble picture post- 
card. Of course, one must not forget that 
the country inn is not entirely kept up as a 
convenience to travellers. It must minister 
besides to the permanent residents of the 
neighbourhood. The regular customer must 
be studied, and he has the comforts of home 
near by. He does not appear to want them 
in the bar of the Blue Lion or George the 
Fourth. Sufficient for him if he find civility 
and an opportunity of discussing a tankard of 

The New Inn and its Possibilities 223 

ale and a pipe in company with his friends. 
But for all that, travellers continue to 
increase and the faster they go the quicker 
they come. 

A motorist or cyclist thinks nothing of an 
extra mile or two in search of good cheer. 
This is a point which may well be commended 
to landlords of inns which are not in the 
direct line of traffic. The number of people, 
too, who take a positive pleasure in going out 
of their way to search for unfrequented 
hostelries is on the increase. Motor-cars 
have to a great extent driven cyclists on to 
the by-roads, and in planning a tour the rider 
of the humbler machine will take any amount 
of trouble to avoid main roads in his anxiety 
to avoid dust and obtain peace and quiet- 
ness. This tends to increase the popularity 
of half-forgotten inns in remoter districts. 
Where a generation ago the advent of a 
traveller from a distance was an event to 
be remembered, nowadays the ubiquitous 
motorist and cyclist may turn up any 
moment. It is to the interest, therefore, of 
rural innkeepers to study him. 

Another fact to be remembered, is the 
increase in the number of lady travellers on 
the roads, and ladies quite rightly will not 

224 Old Country Inns 

stand any sort of makeshift accommodation. 
Where a man will thankfully accept his pot 
of beer and bread and cheese in an evil 
smelling bar parlour, a woman will prefer to 
sit under a tree outside and do without re- 
freshment until it can be obtained in reason- 
able cleanliness and comfort. Women, as a 
rule, travel under the protection of men, and 
depend upon their escort for the discovery 
of nice places in which to take meals. Men, 
therefore, have to find them, and many a 
little inn which might profit by frequent 
parties of both sexes is passed by in favour 
of a more pretentious establishment further 
on, not because the accommodation is not 
extensive and elaborate at the smaller place, 
but because of lack of cleanliness, plain 
reasonable fare, and some attention to the 
amenities of life. 

Quite a small thing will turn a lady traveller 
against a wayside inn. Those horrible, nar- 
row swing doors, which are only too common, 
are quite enough to make a woman decide 
against the inn which is so unfortunate as to 
have them barring the only entrance. No 
man ever pushed through such doors with 
dignity, and a woman feels instinctively that 
to struggle with them involves almost a loss 

The New Inn and its Possibilities 225 

of self-respect. A woman likes to enter a 
house. She does not like to slip in furtively, 
and she feels, perhaps unconsciously, that there 
is a hint of the surreptitious in these doors 
in the way they open just wide enough on 
pressure and close again immediately as if 
to hide a misdemeanour. No woman, either, 
will stand and drink even the mildest of non- 
alcoholic liquors if she can possibly help it. 
She prefers to sit down. The ordinary bar, 
therefore, has no attractions for her. Even 
in a railway refreshment room, where hurry 
excuses most things, a woman will only stand 
under compulsion. It is not that she really 
wants to sit down through weariness, for she 
may have been sitting for hours in a railway 
carriage. But she has an instinct for pro- 
priety and conduct. If tea shops, which are 
so largely patronized by women, had a high 
bar like public-houses, with as little sitting 
accommodation, as is often to be found in 
licensed establishments, they could not pos- 
sibly keep open. Why it should be customary 
to stand up to drink a glass of beer and sit 
down to take a cup of tea is a mystery. 

Let us admit and welcome the efforts of the 
old Georgian coaching inns to keep abreast 
of the times. Let us cheerfully accept the 

226 Old Country Inns 

attempts of mine host to put life into an old 
musty coffee-room and bar parlour. Con- 
servatism is not without value at the inn 
with a history, and the landlord for his own 
sake must step warily. Let no iconoclast 
interfere too violently with the worm-eaten 
glories of old oak and mahogany or seek to 
disparage the solid virtues of the great round 
of beef, or the appetising ingredients of the 
game pie. Tradition in such things is well 
worth preserving. 

But it is the licensed house which never had 
much of a history, which has nothing interest- 
ing to preserve, whose justification for exis- 
tence is solely on account of its use to the 
community as a house of call, that so often 
requires alteration. The new inn, moreover, 
the building itself, erected here in the 
twentieth century for the accommodation of 
modern people, must be as suitable for its 
purpose as the old coaching -house was for the 
stiff, befuddled travellers who, a hundred 
years ago, alighted from the " Royal Mail " 
or " Eclipse " for a much-needed night's 
repose on their journey to London. It is plain 
that people use the roads to-day quite as much 
for pleasure as business. The railway takes 
the business man from one end of England to 

The New Inn and its Possibilities 227 

the other, faster, cheaper, and more comfort- 
ably than even the motor-car has yet achieved 
on the turnpike. Relaxation from work 
means for many thousands a journey by 
road, and it is in making suitable preparation 
for those who take their pleasure in this way 
that the new inn should devote at least half 
of its energies. The time may not be ripe in 
England for the adoption of the cafe system of 
the Continent. Perhaps the climate is some- 
what against it. But some improvements, 
which a study of the French and German 
methods would suggest, might easily be taken 
in hand. The argument of the old teetotaller, 
not always expressed, perhaps, but certainly 
present, was that the more uncomfortable 
and disreputable the public-house the less 
temptation there would be to go into it. 
One can understand the point of view as with 
an effort one can realise the horror of the 
Puritans for anything in the form of an image 
in a Church. But people do not want nowa- 
days to use the inn as a place in which to get 
drunk ; a drunken man, to say nothing of a 
drunken woman, is a universal object of pity 
and scorn. What is demanded is a wholesome, 
clean and pleasant place in which to have 
something to eat and drink without being 

228 Old Country Inns 

told by anyone, publican or teetotaller, what 
form the refreshment shall take. 

Herein is one of the reasons for the move- 
ment in favour of reformed public-houses. 
The People's Refreshment House Association, 
Ltd., which has now over seventy public- 
houses under its management in different 
parts of the country has shown how licensed 
premises may be improved and made to pay 
at the same time. Proof of this is to be found 
in the balance-sheet of the Association which 
has shown a regular annual payment of its 
maximum dividend of five per cent, since 
1899, with over 1,000 placed to reserve. Of 
course, the Association is frankly a temper- 
ance body, but it would be just as well if 
those people who shy at the idea of public- 
houses becoming controlled by bigotry would 
consult the dictionary and discover for them- 
selves the real meaning of the word temper- 
ance. Having done so, they will, perhaps, 
realise that in pursuit of moderation there is 
no reason whatever why the interests of " the 
trade/' the reformer, and the public should 
not be identical, for all these prefer the tem- 
perate man to the drunkard. The fact that 
about 80 per cent, of the licensed houses of 
England are tied to brewers should not stand 




The New Inn and its Possibilities 229 

in the way of improvement ; indeed, in some 
cases, particularly in the provision and upkeep 
of suitable premises, brewers have done more 
than could possibly be undertaken by private 
owners or the public -house Trusts of which, 
by the way, there is one now in nearly every 
county. Without going into the many vexed 
questions, most of which are matters for the 
trade alone, surrounding the tied house, it may 
not unreasonably be hoped that the brewer will 
see more and more in the future how his duty 
to the public and his interests alike demand a 
broader and more enlightened policy than the 
crude idea of monopoly of sale. 

Improvements, however, cannot be entered 
upon with much hope of success without the 
sympathy of the licensing justices, and it is as 
much to be desired that they should recognize 
that the public interest lies in the direction 
of the reformed public-house as that the 
brewer should realise that licensed premises 
are not solely to be run as drinking shops. 
The restrictions in very many parts of Eng- 
land which have been put in the way of 
improvements and extensions are absurd. 
Wherever specially free facilities have been 
granted for the sale of intoxicating liquor 
as at the White City in 1908 nothing has 

230 Old Country Inns 

resulted which in any way caused the authori- 
ties to regret having trusted the public not 
to make beasts of themselves. The Bill 
introduced by Lord Lamington in the House 
of Lords crystallised the views of reformers, 
who desire to make the public-house more 
attractive. It provided that licensing 
justices should not interfere with the pro- 
vision of accommodation for the supply of 
tea, coffee, cocoa, or food ; with the sub- 
stitution of chairs and tables for bars ; with 
the provision of games, newspapers, music, 
or gardens, or any other means of reasonable 
recreation. It also asked that the Licensing 
Bench should allow the improvements of 
premises in the direction of making them 
more open and airy than at present and more 
healthy generally. There are numerous 
cases in which the action of justices in refusing 
to grant facilities for improvement has been 
almost incomprehensible, and amply justified 
the implied rebuke contained in the Bill. 
In London the continental cafe or rather 
an English adaptation of the idea has been 
established with success, and though the 
metropolis is commonly judged by other 
standards than those of the countryside, the 
way in which the cafe has been received seems 

The New Inn and its Possibilities 231 

to indicate not only the desire for freer and 
more enlightened management, but also the 
possession by the public of sufficient moral 
fibre to make use of the increased facilities 
temperately and in reason. 

New inns have been erected in recent years 
not many of them it is true with the object 
of supplying the wants of to-day in a liberal 
and broad-minded way. Occasionally the 
assistance of architects of acknowledged posi- 
tion has been enlisted in making the buildings 
themselves more attractive and less vulgar 
than has been only too common, and if the 
effect of environment upon morality and 
behaviour counts for anything these new inns 
should be an improvement in every way upon 
the bulk of those built at any rate during the 
Victorian period. The inn at Sandon, on 
Lord Harrowby's estate, may be mentioned 
as a case in point. The Fox and Pelican at 
Haslemere, the architects of which were 
Messrs. Read and Macdonald, is another, 
which has, by the way, a sign painted by Mr. 
Walter Crane. There is the Skittles Inn at 
Letchworth, designed by Messrs. R. Barry 
Parker, and Raymond Unwin. In this last 
instance the conditions under which the 
building was erected were much easier than 

16 (2044) 

232 Old Country Inns 

those which commonly obtain in older settled 
districts, where many interests have to be 
considered. At Garden City the question 
regarding the sale of alcoholic liquors is one 
on which there is considerable divergence of 
view. About the necessity for providing a 
well-designed and conducted house for the 
general refreshment of travellers and as a 
centre for social intercourse there would 
appear, however, to have been no doubt 
whatever. The Skittles is referred to here 
simply as a nicely-planned building of very 
attractive appearance which seems to embody 
most of the improvements one would wish to 
see in the design of modern inns. The archi- 
tects have contrived cleverly to combine the 
idea of the continental cafe and the English 
country inn. The rooms are large and airy, 
there is plenty of seating accommodation, 
and a billiard- room is one of the attractions. 
There is an entire absence of ornamental 
decoration, a form of embellishment which 
still continues to appear in nine out of every 
ten newly equipped public -houses, in the 
country as well as in towns. Of course, 
it is perfectly plain that with a new house of 
refreshment which is not to hold a licence, 
anything may be done. Directly an architect 

The New Inn and its Possibilities 233 

is commissioned to design a fully-licensed 
inn his difficulties commence. He is hedged 
about by all sorts of restrictions. It is 
inconceivable, however, that the cause of 
true temperance can be injured by the pro- 
vision of a good, convenient building for a 
licensed victualler's trade, instead of the 
vulgar atrocity which is so common. 

It is not at all certain that the classifica- 
tion of compartments such as saloon bar, 
private bar, public bar, tap-room, bar parlour, 
and so on, is not out of harmony with modern 
requirements. No doubt this division has its 
conveniences, in the same way that the three 
classes of compartments, which some railway 
companies still keep up is found on the whole 
of benefit. But, to take the cafe again as an 
illustration, there appears to be no necessity 
there for such rigid distinctions, and many of 
the greater railway companies have found no 
ill results from the total elimination of at 
least second class. Some of the new tube 
railways have only one class, and if one 
form of public convenience is found to answer 
without class distinction, why not another ? 

Some of the new inns which have archi- 
tectural character have been disfigured by 
flaring advertisements. The licensed trade 

234 Old Country Inns 

should know whether publicity of this kind 
given to particular brands of ale and spirits, 
on the whole contributes to the good of the 
house on which the announcements are dis- 
played ; but there can be little doubt that one 
result is to vulgarize the building. In cases 
where the landlord of the property sets his 
face against advertising of this kind, the inn 
seems by contrast to proclaim its respecta- 
bility and on that account must attract some 
custom, at all events. A very good building, 
as yet not spoilt by advertisements, is the Bell. 
on the high road between the Wake Arms and 
Epping, and another is the White Horse, 
Stetchworth, Newmarket, which Mr. C. F. A. 
Voysey designed for Lord Ellesmere. The 
Wheatsheaf, Loughton, is a new inn designed 
by Mr. Horace White, which is as yet free 
from objectionable signboards, and is a very 
good type of building for the smaller country 
public. There are also various good inns de- 
signed by Mr. P. Morley Horder, in Gloucester- 
shire, and The George and Dragon, Castleton, 
erected some sixteen years ago, is a licensed 
house of excellent design, by Mr. W. Edgar 

For a model wayside inn of the smaller 
class, where the internal treatment shows 

The New Inn and its Possibilities 235 

good taste with the utmost simplicity com- 
mend us to the White Hart at West Wickham. 
It replaces a very ancient wooden house 
which had proved past repair, and is probably 
unique amongst modern inns in that it is 
designed for the convenient drawing of all 
the malt liquors direct from the wood. 
Another more ambitious house by the same 
architects (Messrs. Berney & Son) at Elmers 
End, with an elaborate half-timbered front, 
recalling Black Forest architecture, has antici- 
pated the requirements of the Children's 
Act. The well-proportioned tea room is 
approached by a colonnade at the side of the 
building and isolated from the bars. 

Among brewers who have had the foresight 
to erect inns of better accommodation and 
more pleasing design than most of those put 
up during the latter part of last century 
are Messrs. Godsell & Co., of Stroud, an 
example of whose houses we illustrate in the 
Greyhound Inn ; and the Stroud Brewery Co., 
whose Prince Albert at Rodborough, Glouces- 
tershire, and the Clothiers' Arms, are excellent 
specimens of the modern country inn. These 
three were from the designs of Mr. P. Morley 
Horder. Good taste is by no means lacking 
in some of the many houses owned by Messrs. 

236 Old Country Inns 

Nalder & Collyer, Ltd., in Kent, Surrey, 
and Sussex. This firm have also restored the 
old-fashioned type of signboards. 

Other inns of recent date and of distinctive 
design are the Red Lion, King's Heath, 
Worcestershire, by Messrs. Bateman & Bate- 
man ; the Wentworth Arms, Elmesthorpe, 
Leicestershire, by Mr. C. F. A. Voysey ; the 
George, Hayes, Kent, by Mr. Ernest Newton ; 
the Duck-in-the-Pond, Harrow Weald, by 
Mr. R. A. Briggs; the Maynard Arms, Bag- 
worth, Leicester, by Messrs. Everard & Pick \ 
the remodelled White Hart at Sonning-on- 
Thames, by Mr. W. Campbell Jones ; the Dog 
and Doublet, Sandon ; the Hundred House, 
Purslow, Shropshire (a modern reconstruc- 
tion) ; the Green Man, Tunstall, Suffolk ; the 
Old White House and the Elm Tree at Oxford, 
by Mr. Henry T. Hare ; and various temperance 
inns, amongst which are the Ossington Coffee 
House, Newark, by Messrs. Ernest George & 
Yeates ; the Bridge Inn, Port Sunlight, by 
Messrs. Grayson & Ould (now fully licensed) ; 
and the Bournville Estate public-house, by Mr. 
W. Alexander Harvey. In London two finely 
designed interiors are the Coal Hole, in the 
Strand, by Mr. W. Colcutt, and the Copt Hall, 
inCopthall Avenue, by Mr. P. Morley Horder. 



IT will not come as any surprise to readers 
who have so far dipped with us into the 
pages of the past, to learn that mediaeval 
inns, and indeed those of the fifteenth and 
early sixteenth centuries, have very little 
to show in the way of furniture. Our ances- 
tors had far less done for them when they 
put up for the night than we are accustomed 
to to-day in the most primitive districts. 
Travellers did not even expect a bed. They 
were thankful enough if they could get some 
sort of rough bedstead on which to lay their 
own bed which they brought with them. Of 
course, these were people of some means. 
Whenever Royalty travelled the train of 
waggons required to convey furnishing 
equipment frequently extended to formidable 
dimensions. On the other hand, the accu- 
mulation of wealth in the sixteenth century 
soon began to raise the standard of furnishing 
at the inn, and a diary kept by a Dutch 
physician named Levinus Lemnius, who made 


238 Old Country Inns 

an adventure into England during Elizabeth's 
reign, is worth quoting as an indication of the 
rapid improvement which was taking place. 
The good doctor evidently had not been used 
to luxuries, for he says : ' The neate cleanli- 
ness, the exquisite fineness, the pleasaunte 
and delightful furniture in every poynt for 
the household, wonderfully rejoyced me, their 
nosegayes, finely entermingled with sundry 
sortes of fragreunte flowers in their bed- 
chambers and privy roomes with comfortable 
smell cheered mee up and entirely delyghted 
all my sences." He probably stayed at the 
best hostelries which could be found, and it 
would be unwise to conclude that all inns of 
the period had so many charms as those to 
which he refers. 

One feature of the furnishing of old inns 
which adds not a little to the picturesqueness 
of the interiors is the high-backed settle, 
with wings or arms. This is universal all 
over England. It varies considerably in 
different localities, for the local handicrafts- 
man has worked according to tradition, and 
he has also in most cases made the settle for a 
particular place and to serve a special purpose. 
Of course, the original reason for its design 
was to keep out draughts from the constantly 

Inn Furniture 239 

opening door, and this purpose is still strong 
enough to make the settle a very convenient, 
not to say necessary, fixture in most inns, in 
spite of all sorts of modern draught-excluding 
devices. It scarcely seems likely that the 
high -backed settle will ever be entirely 
superseded. It is not particularly comfort- 
able according to present-day ideas of comfort 
in seats, which seem to revolve round uphol- 
stery. But it is very clean. It will not 
harbour dust, and if well made it will stand 
the assaults of time for centuries. The old 
Elizabethan and Jacobean settles were ex- 
tremely heavy. It was evident in those days 
that sturdiness was inseparable from strength, 
and considering the possible rough usage to 
which seats in the inn might well on occasion 
be put, the heavy timbers of which they were 
constructed seem to have been well advised. 
They very often had fine carving, and 
were constructed with the seat form- 
ing a lid to the boxed-in lower part. It 
was in the eighteenth century that settles 
became of little account, and they were then 
plainly made by carpenters simply to serve 
a useful purpose. There is a good example 
of a carved settle in the Union Inn, Flyford 
Flavel, Worcestershire ; and in many an old 

240 Old Country Inns 

inn in Berkshire, a county which has retained 
its ancient character perhaps more than any 
other, are heavy old oak settles guarding the 
warm fireside. In the tap-room of the 
Green Dragon, Combe St. Nicholas, near Chard, 
is a settle finely carved of fifteenth-century 
origin. Judging by its character it must at 
one time have been in some ecclesiastical build- 
ing. The Green Dragon was monastic. 
The settle after a time developed into the 
fixed partition, its back stretched up to the 
ceiling, and a door was placed at the end, the 
partition being continued beyond to the 
opposite wall. Considerations of light some- 
times prevented this being carried out entirely 
but a modern compromise was effected by 
glazing the screen above the high settle back 
and putting glass panels in the door. The 
development of the ingle-nook came about 
through chimney-corner and settle being 
combined in one feature. 

The settle in some form or other is the best 
possible seat for the inn, particularly if 
space is limited. It might be pleasanter to 
have small tables and chairs, but in many 
an old building there is only enough room for 
a couple of long seats and a table. A long 
bench upon which people can sit in a row 


Inn Furniture 241 

side by side is the best seat in existence for 
saving space. Light furniture is utterly 
unsuitable for inns. For one thing it is 
usually nothing like strong enough, and 
even if it be it commits an artistic sin in look- 
ing too fragile for its purpose. Take the 
respective merits of the very many forms in 
which the old Windsor chair has been made, 
and the modern bent-wood chair. Now the 
latter is without doubt the strongest seat for 
its weight which has been invented in modern 
times. It is one of the few successes in chair- 
making which can claim to be the direct out- 
come of scientific methods. It has absolutely 
no ancestors whatever, and can attach itself 
to no tradition. It is a bald product of the 
application of science to furniture, and when 
the Austrian inventor finally made it perfect 
he had achieved utility, nothing more, nothing 
less. The bent- wood chair is in pretty nearly 
every concert hall in the world. It has 
conquered completely the restaurants and 
cafes of the Continent, and it is to be seen 
often in old inns of the English countryside. 
Now, the last is a regrettable fact. The 
Austrian bent-wood chair or settee looks 
positively effeminate in the country inn with 
its thin polished legs, its slender-looking back, 

242 Old Country Inns 

and perforated, mechanically made seat. 
Something is called for of a greater weight of 
timber, which shall look more in keeping with 
the building and more in accordance with the 
solid unimpassioned, phlegmatic way of life 
of rural districts. Let us have the chair or 
settle made by the village wheelwright or 
carpenter, rather than the product of an 
Austrian factory. 

But in the Windsor chair we have a type 
which can certainly compete with bent-wood 
in strength if not in lightness. The Windsor 
chair, besides, is capable of much greater 
variety of form than the Austrian production. 
It has a tradition of its own and has as great 
a celebrity as its more modern competitor. 
It is heavier and sturdier. It savours some- 
what of the kitchen, but although it cannot 
be regarded as the last word on art craftsman- 
ship, it is not altogether unpleasant to look 
upon, and is much more comfortable in use 
than many a chair with greater pretensions 
to artistic appearance. It is still made by 
hand and costs very little. In the sixteenth 
and seventeenth centuries the smaller inns 
contained many chairs, a few of which are still 
to be met with, simply made by the village 
joiner on the lathe. They had plain wooden 

Inn Furniture 243 

seats, and there was very great diversity of 
" members " in the turned rails. They called 
for comparatively little skill to make, and 
beyond their bare proportions showed small 
ingenuity in making the form comfortable for 
the body. Frequently they had rush seats. 
Within recent years chairs of this kind have 
been sought for and made the base of many 
extremely interesting seats, designed and 
constructed by modern craftsmen. 

The oldest form of inn table is the trestle. 
It dates back to the Middle Ages, and although 
nothing like so much used to-day, it still 
survives in many an old tap-room. It was 
originally even a simpler affair than it is now, 
being merely a board with movable trestles 
underneath. It could readily be moved and 
pushed away if space were required on special 
occasion. At the Plough Inn y Birdbrook, 
Essex, an old thatched house, is a red brick 
floored tap-room which contains several fine 
trestle tables and settles of simple design 
and perfect utility. 

But the simple table, chair and settle, 
beyond which the public part of the inns of the 
Middle Ages and the smaller alehouses for 
centuries were unfurnished, except, perhaps, 
for a stool or backless bench, are nothing 

244 Old Country Inns 

compared with the splendid legacy of sixteenth 
and seventeenth-century carved oak furniture 
still left to us in many of the historic hostelries 
in the shires. Later enthusiasm in collecting 
has no doubt been responsible for the fine 
specimens of furniture such as those to be seen 
at the Lygon Arms, Broadway, Worcester- 
shire, and it is extremely difficult to say with 
certainty how many of the genuinely old 
pieces to be found in other famous inns 
originally belonged to the building. There is 
the Feathers, Ludlow, where in the beautiful 
old dining-room is a fine collection of furniture, 
hardly in accord with the period of the ceiling, 
the carved oak overmantel, and other per- 
manent features of the room. The Jacobean 
and Chippendale chairs are the result of 
enlightened purchase in later days. One of 
the finest Jacobean staircases in an inn is 
that at the Red Lion, Truro. 

Very little furniture of the Renaissance 
period, from the Elizabethan carved oak to 
the mahogany of the later eighteenth century, 
is peculiar to inns. An exception is the bar, 
which, of course, was a fixture and part of 
the inn structure. Our modern bar with its 
almost invariable ugliness, its row of vertical 
handles for drawing beer, and its aggressive 

Inn Furniture 245 

cash register, is a poor survival of the Jaco- 
bean bar, an example of which is still in 
existence at the Maid's Head, Norwich. It 
is worthy of recollection that the high stools 
which enable one to sit at a bar are quite 
of modern origin. Bar lounging evidently 
did not become a habit until the nineteenth 
century. People sat down and had their 
refreshments at ease. 

A table which was sometimes found in 
Jacobean inns of the larger and more impor- 
tant kind was the one upon which the game of 
" shovel-board " was played. " Shovel-board " 
tables were very long, sometimes even as much 
as ten yards. They were about three feet 
or three feet six inches wide, and the game 
played resembles in principle our own deck 
billiards. Indeed the " shovel-board" table 
is thought to be the direct ancestor of the 
modern billiard table, without which, of 
course, no inn of any size nowadays is com- 
plete. The extreme vagueness of the early 
history of the game of billiards, however, 
scarcely justifies any dogmatic statement as 
to its relationship with " shovel-board." A 
Charles II billiard table with a wooden bed, 
cork cushions, and corkscrew legs is in the 
possession of Mr. Robert Rushbrooke, of 

246 Old Country Inns 

Rushbrooke, which seems to show that 
" shovel-board " tables and billiard tables 
existed at the same time. This, however, 
does not do away with the contention of those 
who assert that the modern game was elabor- 
ated from the simpler pastime beloved of 
Henry VIII and Charles II. The last long 
"shovel-board" table in an inn was definitely 
stated by Strutt, in his " Sports and Pastimes 
of the People of England/ ' to be at " a low 
public-house in Benjamin Street, Clerkenwell 
Green/' It was three feet broad and 
thirty-nine feet long. 

As "shovel-board" tables were very expen- 
sive pieces of furniture, it is doubtful whether 
any but the most important inns ever had them. 
The game was played frequently on tables 
of much smaller dimensions, and the name 
of " shovel-board " is usually used now- 
adays to designate a particular form of ex- 
tending table with hidden leaves. The long 
Elizabethan and Jacobean tables rather 
mistakenly known as refectory tables which 
stood on stout turned legs connected by thick 
rails, were ideal boards for the old game. 
At Penshurst are, at the present time, two of 
the finest specimens of long trestle tables 
in the country. They date from the early 

Inn Furniture 247 

fifteenth century and measure twenty-seven 
feet long by three feet wide. 

Innkeepers, of course, had to keep abreast 
of the times in the matter of furnishing, and 
in the coaching era the old hostelries were 
furnished in the latest and most approved 
fashion. Hence it is that the Georgian inns, 
where they have not been denuded of their 
treasures by enterprising collectors, or turned 
inside out by some unfortunately advised 
landlord who preferred Victorian horsehair 
and mahogany, still contain many interesting 
pieces of the time of Chippendale, Heppel- 
white, and Sheraton. A warning may not be 
out of place to those who imagine that these 
famous names applied to furniture really 
indicate that the cabinet -making was done by 
the craftsmen themselves. Without unim- 
peachable documentary evidence, it is utterly 
impossible to ascribe any fine piece of 
mahogany to any one of the three great 
cabinet-makers of the eighteenth century. 
The names indicate nowadays certain periods 
which are fairly definitely fixed, and certain 
easily recognizable styles of work. In many 
an old inn you will see in the coffee-room or 
commercial room side tables, dining tables., 
card tables, chairs, settees, mirrors, long-case 

17 (2244) 

248 Old Country Inns 

clocks, bureaux, and corner cupboards which 
may typify any or all of the great periods of 
the eighteenth century, and it is quite likely 
that down in the hall or in the corridors and 
kitchen you will discover specimens of Jaco- 
bean chests, gate-leg tables, dressers, a 
" bread-and-cheese " cupboard, perhaps, and 
other relics of even an earlier age. The fact 
was, of course, that pieces of furniture were 
bought as they were required, and when an inn 
had a history running well into two centuries 
it would have been remarkable indeed if a 
heterogeneous collection had not been got 
together. It is only the modern craze for 
collecting which has robbed the inn of so many 
of its treasures. The experts will tell you that 
the fact of a piece of furniture being old is no 
guarantee whatever of its worth, excepting 
whatever value may be attached to mere 
length of years. A joiner in the country, say 
in Shropshire or Yorkshire, might not make 
a piece of furniture for mine host of the 
Chequers or Blue Lion as well or in such good 
taste as would the first-class cabinet-makers 
of London. It is quite likely that he would 
invest it with some local character, and if 
this is well preserved in the piece it has its 
worth on this account alone. But country 

Inn Furniture 249 

made Chippendale, Heppelwhite, or Sheraton 
furniture, although charming enough, has rarely 
any exceptional value. Wherever the contents 
of a large country house was offered for sale, 
the innkeeper as a man of some substance 
would buy, and it is this fact which explains 
in some cases the finds of really valuable 
furniture which have been made at old inns. 
The sort of advertisement common enough 
then as now which attracted local com- 
petition can be realised by the following, 
from the Kentish Gazette of September 21st, 
1790, which announced the sale in the Isle 
of Thanet of : 

" All the genuine Household Furniture, comprising 
bedsteads with marine and other furniture, fine 
goose feather beds, blankets, etc., mahogany ward- 
robes, chest of drawers, ditto dressing tables, 
mahogany press, bedsteads, with green check furni- 
ture ; mahogany escritoire ; ditto writing table with 
drawers ; ditto dining and Pembroke tables ; 
library table with steps ; mahogany and other 
chairs ; pier glasses and girandoles, in carved and 
gilt frames ; a neat sofa ; an exceeding good eight- 
day clock ; Wilton and other carpets ; register and 
Bath stoves ; kitchen range ; smoke-jack and other 
useful kitchen furniture ; two large brewing-coppers, 
exceedingly good brewing utensils, and other effects." 

This was the sale of the property of a man of 
quality. It is probable from the description 

250 Old Country Inns 

that the furniture was comparatively new 
at that time. The Pembroke table, the 
mahogany escritoire, the pier glasses and 
girandoles and other items were plainly 
eighteenth century. The enumerated articles 
would no doubt be the most attractive pieces 
in the sale. Whether there was any old oak 
or not cannot be ascertained from the adver- 
tisement, but it is quite likely, for it would 
never be quoted, being thought at that time 
of no value. The catalogues of such sales 
were always left with the chief innkeepers 
of the neighbourhood, and to the innkeeper 
came any likely buyers who would discuss the 
mansion and its contents. Foreign com- 
petition in the way of dealers from London, 
was not to be feared in those days, and the 
" neat sofa " and " exceeding good eight -day 
clock " were quite as likely to find their way 
to the coaching inn as to any of the prosperous 
farmhouses in the neighbourhood. 

A fairly common fixture in old inns was the 
angle cupboard. It was usually not a separ- 
ate piece of furniture, but was fitted into the 
angle of the wall. It takes up little space, 
and was convenient for the storage of crockery. 

There is a famous angle cupboard at the 
New Inn, New Romney. 

Inn Furniture 251 

The bedchambers of the old coaching inns 
had as an inevitable feature the four -posters, 
now, by the way, again coming into fashion. 
These bedsteads were not always fine in design 
by any means. The turning of the posts was 
often quite clumsy enough, but they were 
never so hideous as the tester beds of the 
nineteenth century. The prettiest bed-posts 
were those of the latter half of the Georgian 
period, and Heppelwhite in particular is 
credited with the design of some of the most 
charming. As to drapery, which all good 
chambermaids kept spotless and clean, the 
following suggestion from Heppelwhite's own 
book may be quoted. 

" It may be executed of almost any stuff 
which the loom produces. White dimity, 
plain or corded, is peculiarly applicable for 
the furniture, which, with a fringe with a 
gymp head, produces an effect of elegance and 
neatness truly agreeable." He goes on to 
say : " The Manchester stuffs have been 
wrought into bed furniture with good success. 
Printed cottons and linens are also very 
suitable, the elegance and variety of patterns 
of which afford as much scope for taste, 
elegance and simplicity as the most lively 
fancy can wish. In general the lining to these 

252 Old Country Inns 

kinds of furniture is a plain white cotton. To 
furniture of a dark pattern a green silk lining 
may be used with good effect." 

This description gives a very fair idea of 
the way in which beds were draped about a 
hundred to a hundred and fifty years ago. 
Of course, the word " furniture " in the above 
quotation is an old name for the hangings. 
It is used in the sense that hangings furnished 
the bed. 

Tall-boys were found in the old inn bedroom, 
the corner washstand with its blue and white 
crockery, and one of those small loose mirrors 
(far too small for the modern beauty) with 
three little drawers underneath. It is quite 
common in any country inn nowadays to 
meet with these simple furnishings, though 
the four-poster has given way in many in- 
stances to cheap "black and brass" or "all- 
black " bedsteads of the age of mechanical 
ingenuity, and instead of a bed of goose-down 
you shall lie on wool over that really very 
comfortable rascal the wire mattress. The 
immortal Jingle, who surely puts into four 
words more philosophy on the subject of a 
good inn than anyone else in fiction, summed 
up everything when he remarked, " Good 
house ; nice beds." 

Inn Furniture 253 

The day should not be far distant when the 
new inn, not large fashionable hotels, will seek 
to furnish in some better way than by the 
purchase of heavy and ornate cast-iron tables 
with marble tops for the saloon bar, with 
utterly unsuitable saddle-bag suites for the 
parlour, with flashing mirrors everywhere, and 
ornamental crockery, palm stands of dubious 
origin, and gilt leather papers as decorative 

However much influence the Arts and Crafts 
movement has had in the furnishing of the 
domestic dwelling, it has left practically 
untouched the house which belongs of right to 
the public. There are craftsmen, however, 
many of them, whose furniture seems as if it 
were designed specially for the country inn, 
yet it is doubtful whether one was ever 
commissioned to supply the equipment which 
would give such character and charm to the 
modern licensed house. Some of the pieces 
of furniture, such as plain straightforward 
oaken drawers, benches, chairs, sturdy tables, 
cupboards and the like which have for many 
years been exhibited by members of the 
Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, would be 
infinitely more suitable in the inn than any- 
where else. It is not apparently lack of 

254 Old Country Inns 

money which makes those who furnish inns 
anew look to the modern and often hideous 
productions of commerce for their furniture. 
It would seem to be rather lack of knowledge 
or taste. No publican exists but wants 
to make his house attractive ; but, except 
occasional advice about the preservation of 
the character of old inns by the retention of 
what old furniture there may be and the pur- 
chase of other pieces in a style suitable to the 
building, there would appear to be no influence 
whatever to prevent refurnishing in a manner 
which suggests too often an attempt to re- 
produce a railway hotel in miniature. At 
the moment the most accessible good furniture 
for the new inns is to be found in the modern 
reproductions of well-known styles which are 
to be purchased through the ordinary com- 
mercial channels and at commercial prices. 
It is the commonest experience to go into a 
country inn of undeniable architectural 
charm, even if the attraction be merely that 
it seems a simple homely looking building and 
nothing else, and to find inside furnishing as 
bad or worse than that of the cheap lodging- 
house. Now the inn should be a cut above 
that. It should not be too much to expect 
a little simplicity in furnishing. It is the 






Inn Furniture 255 

attempt to elaborate which usually results 
in such artistic disaster. We have in memory 
many a little public-house, whose parlour is so 
small as to prohibit the slightest effort at 
decorative detail, and others obscure ale- 
houses some of them where obviously there 
is not the wherewithal to provide up-to-date 
splendours, and in these instances the plain, 
honest benches, the trestle tables, the Wind- 
sor chairs and homely dresser constitute an 
interior which could scarcely be improved. 
There being no chance to elaborate, well has 
fortunately been left alone. 



" A seemly man our Hoste was withal. 
For to have been a marshall in a hall. 
A large man he was with eyen stepe, 
A fairer burgess is there none in Chepe ; 
Bold of his speech and wise, and well-y-taught 
And of manhood him lackede right naught. 
Like thereto he was right a merry man." 

A MODEL to all innkeepers was Our Hoste 
of the Tabard ; a born leader of men, quick 
to understand each man's individualities, 
and full of kindly sympathy for all. Ready 
of wit, he was ever careful to remove the 
sting before it could rankle. A man of 
education, he could adapt himself to his 
company and be skilful in devices for their 
comfort and recreation. Not least of his 
many qualifications as a landlord was his 
presence of mind in averting disputes by a 
judicious change of the subject. 

We no longer send innkeepers to Parlia- 
ment, nor do members of Parliament, as a rule, 
undertake the personal superintendence of 


The Innkeeper 257 

hotels, as they often did in the fourteenth 
century. But the type of innkeeper por- 
trayed as Harry Bailey of the Tabard, in 
Southwark, is by no means extinct. You 
may find him if you search well under many an 
old gable or Queen Anne cornice sometimes 
even in a smart new red-brick hotel. Nor is 
he lacking on the great ancient trade routes 
that run right through Europe not even 
in those establishments recommended by 
Baedeker or Bradshaw though the new races 
of purse-proud tourists and Cook's excur- 
sionists are fast expelling him in favour of the 
servile and mercenary business manager. In 
a humbler way, the village and wayside inns 
contain good men and true who follow in the 
footsteps of Harry Bailey. Such inns, often 
kept by retired tradesmen, blacksmiths or 
farmers, are a boon and a blessing to the 
neighbourhood. They are not only a centre 
of recreation for the village labourer ; they 
tend also to educate and uplift him, ridiculous 
as the assertion may seem to those who have 
never put on an old coat and tramped through 
the by-ways into Arcady. 

Diverse and sundry are the concerns in 
which the village innkeeper is called upon to 
give advice. He is the arbitrator in disputes, 

258 Old Country Inns 

he solves weighty problems of rural etiquette. 
He knows the inner secrets of every home 
and can weigh the respective merits of his 
clientele to a nicety. To him it is that each 
one comes for help in trouble, social or finan- 
cial, and his charity is given irrespective of 
politics or creed, given considerately as be- 
comes a man of affairs, and without stint. 
The parish clergy know him as a valuable 
ally, and it is not unusual to find him acting 
as churchwarden. Nay, only the other day 
we saw a procession headed by the worthy 
village publican carrying the cross, and a 
manful and decorous crossbearer he proved 

It is surprising what good fellows innkeepers 
generally are, when one considers all the 
difficulties surrounding their occupation. 
They are the legitimate prey of every tax and 
rate collector. We know of one middle-class 
beerhouse where the rent charged by the 
brewers is only 50 a year, but which is rated 
at more than double that amount. The inn- 
keeper, for the purpose of taxation, is merged 
in the licensed victualler. He is told that 
his business of selling fermented liquors is a 
valuable monopoly, and a very heavy licensed 
duty is exacted for the privilege. Yet he is 

The Innkeeper 259 

expected to view with equanimity the dozens 
of bottles of beer, wine and spirits passing 
his door in the trucks of the grocer, who by 
virtue of a nominal licence can easily undersell 
him. Long after the hour when he is bound 
by law to close, he hears the shouts of the 
bibulous in the neighbouring political club ; 
on Sunday mornings he sees a procession of 
jugs and bottles issuing from this same un- 
taxed establishment. Blackmailed by the 
police, and spied upon by the hirelings of all 
kinds of busybody societies, he goes to the 
Brewster Sessions in each year in fear and 
trembling. The licensing justices must by 
law have no interest whatever either in a 
brewery or a licensed house of any description, 
but they may be, and frequently are, teeto- 
tallers. Every other subject of his Majesty 
is entitled to plead his cause before his peers. 
The licensed victualler, alone of all English- 
men since the days of Magna Charta, has to 
submit to be tried by enemies who have 
sworn his ruin. 

How we all love to see, on the stage, at least, 
if not in real life, jovial, hearty old souls like 
Mine Host who entertained Falstaff at the 
Garter, or old Will Boniface (first landlord to 
be so dubbed) of the Beaux Stratagem. It 

260 Old Country Inns 

is disappointing that Farquhar was such a 
wronghead dramatist as to make all his 
interesting characters vicious. We cannot 
believe this fat and pompous host with a 
wholesome faith in the virtues of his brew 
could really have been a scoundrel or capable 
of conspiring with footpads. No ! Julius 
Caesar was a better judge of fat human nature 
than Farquhar ! Depend upon it, Boniface 
slept after his potations the sleep of an honest 
man. Just listen to him : 

Sir, you shall taste my Anno Domini, I have lived 
in Lichfield, man and boy, above eight-and-fifty years, 
and I believe have not consumed eight-and-fifty ounces 
of meat. 

Aimwell. At a meal, you mean, if one may guess 
your sense by your bulk. 

Boniface. Not in my life, Sir ; I have fed purely 
upon ale ; I have ate my ale, drank my ale, and I 
always sleep upon ale. 

Enter tapster with a Tankard. 

Now, sir, you shall see ; your worship's health ; 
Ha ! delicious, delicious fancy it Burgundy, only 
fancy it, and 'tis worth ten shillings a quart. 

Aimwell (drinks). 'Tis confounded strong. 

Boniface. Strong ! It must be so ; or how would 
we be strong that drink it ? 

Hawthorne tried hard to find Mr. Boniface's 
inn at Lichfield, but in vain. He had to 
content himself with the Black Swan, once 

The Innkeeper 261 

owned by Dr. Johnson. Farquhar was care- 
ful not to indicate the particular inn referred 
to, if it ever existed there. Not that the 
dramatists in bygone days lived in fear 
of a libel action. Witness a farce by J. M. 
Morton, in which Mrs. Fidget, the landlady 
of the Dolphin at Portsmouth, is most cruelly 
pilloried for her dishonesty and meanness. In 
"Naval Engagements" Charles Dance portrays 
Mr. Short of the Fountain in the same town as 
a . scurvy impudent rascal, taking advantage 
of customers who had spent the night not 
wisely nor too well, to charge them for an 
unordered and unserved breakfast. Short's 
sanctimonious morality and his devices to 
detain customers in a hurry, so that they are 
compelled to stay in the inn for dinner, are a 
valuable humorous element of this play. 

Fielding's innkeepers are all exquisitely 
drawn, -with the lifelike touches of a fine 
student of human nature in its infinite variety. 
We love best of all the host of that inn where 
Parson Adams met the braggart, untruthful 
squire who offered him a fine living and end- 
less other benefits without the slightest 
intention of fulfilling his promises. Mine 
Host stands by chuckling inwardly at the good 
jest when the squire undertakes to defray 

262 Old Country Inns 

the bill for the lodging and entertainment of 
the party. Nor does he lose his good-humour 
when he finds next morning the joke turned 
against himself and that the worthy curate 
has not a farthing in his purse. 

' Trust you, master ? that I will with all 
my heart. I honour the clergy too much to 
deny trusting one of them for such a trifle ; 
besides, I like your fear of never paying me. 
I have lost many a debt in my lifetime ; 
but was promised to be paid them all in a very 
short time. I will score this reckoning for the 
novelty of it ; it is the first, I do assure you, 
of its kind. But what say you, master, 
shall we have t'other pot before we part ? 
It will waste but a little chalk more ; and, if 
you never pay me a shilling, the loss will not 

ruin me." 

By way of contrast we are given the terma- 
gant Mrs. Tow-wouse, whose ill-temper and 
selfish grasping ways were always counteract- 
ing her easy-going spouse's mild attempts in 
the direction of generosity : 

" Mrs. Tow-wouse had given no utterance 
to the sweetness of her temper. Nature had 
taken such pains in her countenance, that 
Hogarth himself never gave more expression 
to a picture. Her person was short, thin, and 

The Innkeeper 263 

crooked ; her forehead projected in the middle 
and thence descended in a declivity to the 
top of her nose, which was sharp and red, 
and would have hung over her lips, had not 
Nature turned up the end of it ; her lips were 
two bits of skin, which, whenever she spoke, 
she drew together in a purse ; her chin was 
peaked ; and at the upper end of that skin 
which composed her cheeks, stood two bones, 
that almost hid a pair of small red eyes. 
Add to this a voice most wonderfully adapted 
to the sentiments it was to convey, being both 
loud and hoarse." 

Surely such a picture is worthy of being 
beside Skelton's description of the frowsy 
ale wife of Leatherhead. 

Dean Swift encountered a lady of the same 
contrary nature at the Three Crosses, on the 
road between Dunchurch and Daventry. He 
left his opinion of his hostess on one of the 
windows : 

" To the Landlord. 

There hang three crosses at thy door, 
Hang up thy wife and she'll make four." 

And here we may be permitted to introduce 
an adventure of our own. A party of three, 
we were engaged on a walk across the Dunes, 
near Nieuport, and had lost our way. Flemish 

i& (3344) 

264 Old Country Inns 

was the language of the district, and this in 
its spoken form was a sealed book to all three. 
By and by we came to a little roadside 
estaminet which we entered, and in correct 
exercise -book French inquired the nearest 
way to Furnes. The proprietor replied by 
placing before us three large glasses of the 
local beverage. It was a hot, dusty day, 
we were thirsty and the beer light and harm- 
less. So we drank it and then again inquired 
the way to Furnes. For answer our glasses 
were forthwith refilled. When we shook our 
heads in dissent, the obliging caterer brought 
out in turn every different kind of bottle 
and brand of cigar and cigarette the estab- 
lishment could muster. It was no good. We 
did not wish to drink or smoke. 

He was perplexed and sat down for a few 
moments to scratch his head and ponder over 
the puzzling problem. At last he decided 
to do what many wiser men before have done 
when in a quandary : he called his wife. 
Maybe female intuition might pierce into these 
mysteries where dull reason vainly groped in 

She came, pink and rosy as some glorious 
dawn, tripping as lightly as a forty-eight inch 
waist and a weight somewhere near fourteen 

The Innkeeper 265 

stone would permit. After darting a scornful 
glance at her lord and master she turned to us 
with a sweet smile. We asked in Parisian 
tongue the nearest way to Furnes. In a 
trice she placed before us three pint glasses 
of Flemish white beer. We manifested our 
disapproval very strongly ; we did not want 
any beer, and her husband watched and 
smoked his pipe with a cynical grin as she 
brought us, in vain, the bottles and various 
other articles from the shelves. 

Then a brilliant idea occurred to one of the 
trio. After all, the Flemish language is only a 
dialect of German ! So in truly classic 
German he inquired of the puzzled dame 
Would she kindly tell us the nearest way to 
Furnes ? 

A bright smile of intelligence illumined her 
features. She understood now exactly what 
we wanted, and popping into the kitchen 
behind, she soon returned with three steaming 
plates full of most delicious hotch-potch soup. 
There were haricots, lentils, cabbage stumps, 
garlic, chicken bones, sausages and other 
articles unidentified in that soup. But it 
was appetising ; we remembered that we were 
hungry from a long walk and sat down and 
absorbed it with a good-will. 

266 Old Country Inns 

That woman, we know for certain, became 
our devoted friend from the moment. She 
will never forget us. She demurred very 
strongly to our paying anything for the 
refreshment, and tried hard to force three 
more pints of that terribly mild beer on us 
before we left. Not only had we appreciated 
her cooking at its fullest value we had also 
proved her abilities as a cosmopolitan woman 
of business and, depend upon it, the fact 
has been rubbed into her partner in life many 
times since then ! 

But of worthy, buxom good-tempered land- 
ladies there is always a plentiful supply, 
faithful and true in the defence of their 
friends, like the good widow McCandlish in 
"Guy Mannering," or beneficent fairies, ready 
to adjust the difficulties of eloping young 
couples and their several guardians with the 
delicacy and tact of a Mrs. Bartick. l The 
fair sex have usually all the business qualities 
for the conduct of a good inn, and when with 
these are conjoined kindness of disposition the 
traveller is blest indeed. 

Once upon a time, so tradition hath it 
there was a barmaid in a Westminster tavern 

1 " Three Deep ; or All on the Wing." A once favourite 
farcical play by Joseph Lunn. 

The Innkeeper 267 

who married her master. After his death, she 
continued to carry on the business, and had 
occasion to seek the advice of a lawyer 
named Hyde. Mr. Hyde wooed and married 
her. Then Hyde became Lord Chancellor 
and was ennobled as Lord Clarendon. Their 
daughter married the Duke of York, and was 
the mother of Mary and Anne Stewart. So 
the landlady of an inn became the grand- 
mother of two queens. Most history books 
are content to describe Lord Clarendon's 
second wife as the daughter of Sir Thomas 
Aylesbury ; but the supporters of the 
traditional view maintain that this was an 
invention of the Court Party. 

We have not yet encountered an innkeeper 
exactly of the same type as old John Willet, 
of the Maypole at Chigwell, that " burly 
large -headed man with a fat face, which 
betokened profound obstinacy and slowness of 
apprehension, combined with a very strong 
reliance upon his own merits/' We meet 
occasionally in other walks of life these small- 
minded individuals whom chance has endowed 
with pride pf place and the opportunity to 
tyrannize over all around them. Like the 
sovereign owner of the ancient hostelry with 
its " huge zigzag chimneys and more gable 

268 Old Country Inns 

ends than a lazy man would care to count on a 
sunny day/' not to speak of its diamond-pane 
lattices and its ceilings blackened by the hand 
of time and heavy with massive beams, they 
imagine that their reign will endure to the 
end. Is there in all literature a more pathetic 
piece of writing than that in which Charles 
Dickens depicts the humiliation of John 
Willet, when the Gordon rioters invade the 
Maypole, and the fallen tyrant finds himself 
" sitting down in an armchair and watching 
the destruction of his property, as if it were 
some queer play or entertainment of an 
astonishing and stupefying nature, but having 
no reference to himself that he could make 
out at all?" 

Innkeepers have been reckoned among the 
poets. John Taylor, the " Water Poet/' so 
called because he commenced life as a water- 
man, and because so many of his voluminous 
works deal with aquatic matters, kept a tavern 
in Phoenix Alley, Longacre. Being a faithful 
royalist he set up the sign of the Mourning 
Crown over his house to express his sorrow 
at the tragic death of Charles I, but was com- 
pelled by the Parliament to take it down. He 
replaced it with his own portrait and the 
following lines : 

The Innkeeper 269 

" There is many a head hangs for a sign ; 
Then, gentle reader, why not mine ? " 

The episode is commemorated in a rhyming 
pamphlet issued by him at the same time : 

" My signe was once a Crowne, but now it is 
Changed by a sudden metamorphosis. 
The Crowne was taken downe, and in the stead 
Is placed John Taylor's or the Poet's Head." 

Of Taylor's works, the mere enumeration of 
which occupies eight closely printed pages in 
"Lownde's Bibliographer's Manual/' the best 
known are his " Prayse of Cleane Linen/' 
and " The Pennyless Pilgrimage," descriptive 
of a journey on foot from London to Edin- 
burgh, " not carrying any money to and fro, 
neither begging, borrowing or asking meat, 
drink or lodging." In 1620, he made a similar 
journey from London to Prague, and published 
an account of it. 

Scarcely less eminent in his way was Ned 
Ward, the " Publican Poet," immortalised in 
the " Dunciad." His works are scurrilous 
and coarse, yet not to be despised by students 
of London topography in the reign of Queen 
Anne. His writings in the London Spy 
describe the London taverns and inns of 
his day, and he produced several imitations 
of Butler's "Hudibras," including a versified 

270 Old Country Inns 

translation of "Don Quixote/' and "Hudibras 
Redivivus." The latter work obtained for its 
author the privilege of standing twice in the 
pillory and of paying a fine of forty marks. 
His inn stood in Woodbridge Street, Clerken- 
well, and his poetical invitation to customers 
includes a reference to the Red Bull Theatre, 
close by, made famous by Shakespeare and 
Edward Alleyn, the founder of Dulwich 
College : 

" There on that ancient, venerable ground, 
Where Shakespeare in heroic buskins trod, 
Within a good old fabrick may be found 
Celestial liquors, fit to charm a god." 

Very different was the side in politics 
favoured by Sam House, " the patriotic 
publican/' Apprenticed as a brewhouse 
cooper, his active industrious habits enabled 
him, when only twenty-five years of age, to 
lease an inn at the corner of Peter Street, 
Wardour Street, Soho, called the Gravel Pits, 
which name he changed to the Intrepid Fox y 
or The Cap of Liberty. In 1763 he very warmly 
espoused the cause of John Wilkes, and sold 
his beer at threepence a pot in honour of the 
champion of freedom. Of unflinching politi- 
cal integrity, Sam House was in most respects 
a well-meaning, good-hearted man, with but 

The Innkeeper 271 

one reprehensible vice a habit of swearing 
most horribly, no matter what the company. 
Many are the unprintable anecdotes related 
with regard to this failing, when the most 
exalted personages were conversing with him. 
Another eccentric feature of his character was 
illustrated when he had laid a wager with a 
young man to race him in Oxford Road. 
Just when his victory seemed assured, a 
mischievous wag in the crowd suddenly 

shouted, " D n Fox and all his friends, say 

I ! ): Forthwith Sam forgot all about his 
race, and regardless of protests from his 
backers, turned round and administered a 
sound drubbing to the blasphemer. This 
gave great amusement to the spectators, 
but meanwhile his rival had passed the 
winning-post. Sam cheerfully paid the 
penalty, consoling himself that he had lost 
the race in a good cause, while avenging an 
insult to his political idol. 



" NOTHING suits worse with vice than want 
of sense/' remarked Sir Harry Wilding in the 
" Constant Couple/ 1 For vice we might read 
benevolence and find the maxim equally 
appropriate. Good judgment is especially 
needful in that kind of philanthropy so much 
in vogue at the present time, wherein one class 
of the community interests itself in improving 
the condition of another class with which it 
is imperfectly acquainted. 

Take, for instance, the housing of the work- 
ing classes. A committee of maiden ladies 
meet together and engage the services of some 
clever young architect. The local land- 
owner finds the funds, and very soon a row 
of cottages has been built of dainty pictur- 
esque appearance, and everything inside them 
equally lovely. The sanitation is of the latest, 
the rooms are light and airy. All sorts of 
clever devices are introduced to economize 
space, nice cupboards, economical cooking 
stoves with every appliance to delight the 


Public-House Reform 273 

housewife, and even a bath artfully hidden 
beneath a trap-door just in front of the 
kitchen fire. There is even high art decora- 
tion approved by the Kyrle Society. In 
short, these cottages would be a joy and a 
treasure if only the ungrateful labourer would 
consent to leave his insanitary hovel and come 
and take up his abode therein. He emphati- 
cally declines to do so because they contain 
no " best room/' 

The committee of maiden ladies are very 
indignant at the idea of the working man 
insisting on his best room, an apartment 
which remains hermetically closed from week- 
end to week-end, reserved only as a shrine 
for the family Bible and for the reception of a 
few highly -favoured visitors. He ought, they 
contend, to be satisfied with the big airy 
living-room, specially designed for his family, 
and has no business to complain that his little 
heirlooms will be at the mercy of inquisitive 
and mischievous children. But it will be a 
bad day for England when the " best room " 
disappears from the artisan's home. It is 
by long tradition his castle, his secret keep, 
the innermost temple of his religion. Every 
patriotic instinct of the poor man has its 
centre within that little stuffy apartment. 

274 Old Country Inns 

Home to the working man means the best 
room. The safety of the best room justifies 
all the national expenditure on a standing 
army and a huge navy. In the defence of that 
best room he is prepared to send his sons to lay 
their bones in some nameless soldier's grave 
in the most distant corner of the empire. 
Take away the best room and the wage-earner 
has no home worth either working for or 
fighting for. He becomes an atheist, an 
anarchist, and a general outcast. 

A similar lack of appreciation of human 
nature is shown by certain philanthropists in 
dealing with the use by working men of the 
public -house as a place of resort. How 
much better, they urge, if the workman 
would spend his time in more intellectual 
surroundings in reading rooms, popular 
lectures or entertainments, Christian en- 
deavour societies, etc., etc. And so they 
exert all their influence over licensing justices, 
the police and other authorities, inciting 
them to make the public -house as uncomfort- 
able as possible ; with the result that a series 
of very undesirable institutions having all 
the worst qualities of the gin palace, without 
its publicity or proper means of supervision, 
are coming into existence. Penny readings, 

Public-House Reform 275 

lectures, and other religious or educational 
centres are well enough in their way ; but the 
man of few home resources yearns for the 
gossip of the alehouse. Only there can he 
find what the soul of every human being longs 
for, the company of his own kind, and recrea- 
tion and amusement which he himself can 
assist in supplying. 

Still, if it is to continue, the public-house 
must be reformed and improved in some way 
to satisfy the national conscience. And a 
book of this kind seems to be incomplete 
unless it contains some suggestions as to the 
direction in which reform ought to proceed. 

In the first place, we would urge the inex- 
pediency of any further legislation. Any- 
body, who as a parish worker or as an employer 
of labour has interested himself in a model 
public -house, will agree with us in this. No 
other institution in the country is so hopelessly 
law-ridden and police -ridden. We might 
make an exception in the case of the licence 
itself. All taxation of alcoholic liquors should 
be direct and should be levied at the fountain 
head whether distiller, brewer or importer. 
The licence for retailing such liquors 
should be a moderate and fixed amount like 
all other licences. Why the publican should 

276 Old Country Inns 

be penalised at so high a rate, when the grocer, 
whose annual sales often exceed those of all 
the public-houses in the district combined, 
is let off with a nominal sum, passes all 
comprehension . 

To impose a high licence on the hotel or 
tavern-keeper is, in the opinion of those who 
have studied the subject carefully, a mistake 
both economically and morally. First, be- 
cause a large and increasing portion of his 
sales consists in wares which the outside 
dealer supplies without the necessity of either 
tax or licence. Secondly, there is a serious 
temptation offered to the publican to recoup 
the high expenditure on his licence by 
inducing his customers to drink. And it is 
most important that men of the highest 
character and responsibility should be 
encouraged to take office as innkeepers and 
publicans. This can hardly be the case 
while the high licence adds so seriously to the 
amount of unremunerative capital required 
for embarking in the business. No other 
trade is handicapped by such an iniquitous 

We must not, of course, shirk that ugly 
word," monopoly value/' introduced by the 
Licensing Act of 1902. But it is a monopoly 

Public-House Reform 277 

of dwindling value riddled by half a dozen 
competing agencies and minimised by all sorts 
of vexatious restrictions. Sunday trading 
is not a desirable thing, but a visit to any 
favourite suburban resort on Sunday morning 
reveals a state of affairs only to be paralleled 
in Gilbertian comic opera. Tobacconists, 
sweet-stuff shops, tea gardens and enterprising 
Italian caterers are all doing a roaring trade 
without let or hindrance. Meanwhile the 
" Licensed Victualler/ 1 who pays so high a 
price for his " monopoly " as a purveyor of 
refreshments, is compelled on pain of extinc- 
tion to keep his doors bolted and barred 
against all but the few hardy souls who 
have accomplished the Sabbath Day's 

There is an underworld in the drink trade. 
Provincial allotment holders never seem to 
lack a good supply of the national beverage 
on Sunday mornings ; it does not flow from 
the local alehouse. Quarterns of gin and 
whisky are obtainable in London from some 
unknown sources at all hours of the night. 
One of the authors, associated for many years 
with a famous church in the poorer districts 
of central London, made some astonishing 
discoveries with regard to this illicit drink 

278 Old Country Inns 

traffic. Most of it is the direct out- 
come of the oppressive one-sided licensing 

On the liquor question itself, we would 
suggest that the tax on beer should be gradu- 
ated, and a comparatively light duty be im- 
posed on beer guaranted to be brewed entirely 
from malt and hops, and containing only the 
small proportion of alcohol necessary to carry 
the phosphates say not more than four per 
cent. We believe that the revenue would 
not ultimately lose much by this concession, 
while the result of its general adoption as a 
beverage would be highly beneficial. No 
better preventative could be imagined against 
nervous depression, the great curse of modern 
life, and the real cause of the drink and drug- 
taking habits than a revival of the good 
old English mild ale such as our fore- 
fathers brewed in the pre-reformation 
Church Houses. 

We have already referred to the work of the 
Public Refreshment House Association, and 
much good is bound to result from the efforts 
of this body in improving the status of the 
public-house. Its methods and the rules laid 
down for the management of the houses under 
its control are worthy of all praise. The 

Public-House Reform 279 

foresight and self-denial of its directorate are 
especially commendable, in that the society 
seeks to co-operate in the formation of separate 
county trusts, rather than to aggrandize itself 
by acquiring an unlimited number of licences. 
The danger of a gigantic trust, as of a national 
monopoly, would be that enormous power 
might, in the second generation, fall into the 
hands of an ambitious and tyrannical central 
staff. One fear only we have with regard 
to the P.R.H.A. Its establishments are so 
attractive and altogether so desirable, that like 
all philanthropic efforts they will end by 
benefiting a higher class than was at first 
intended. The lady cyclist and the week- 
ender will avail themselves of their advantages 
rather than the rural labourer. And we hope 
that the wise authorities at headquarters will 
guard against this difficulty by encouraging 
games, and providing magazines for the users 
of the tap-room. 

A worthy country cleric of our acquaintance 
takes exception to the preferential commission 
which the Association allows to its local 
managers in order to push the sale of temper- 
ance drinks. He urges that no temperance 
drink has hitherto been invented which is 
either thirst quenching or wholesome. The tea 

19 (2244) 

280 Old Country Inns 

and coffee habit would end by making the 
villager as neurotic as his cockney cousin. 
Aerated waters, flavoured with narcotic drugs 
and saturated with gaseous mineral carbonic 
dioxide, put a severe strain on the action of 
the heart ; fruit syrups are doctored with 
nerve -destroying formaline to prevent natural 
fermentation. Even the popular ginger beer 
and ginger ale are not unimpeachable. Ginger 
is a drug injurious to the coating of the 
stomach ; and in some modern brands the 
more poisonous capsicum is employed as a 
cheaper substitute. 

But on general grounds, we think this 
encouragement of temperance drinks is alto- 
gether a judicious move. The public-house 
exists for the benefit and use of all classes and 
sections of the community ; the teetotaller 
has as much right there as anybody else, and 
it is desirable that he should exercise that 
right as frequently as possible. The popular 
idea that the tavern is only a place for the 
consumption of certain alcoholic drinks must 
be dispelled ; such liquors have to be on sale 
there merely because a large majority of 
Englishmen habitually desire them as bever- 
ages, and it is not the duty of those in charge 
to decide whether they shall, or shall not, 


Public-House Reform 281 

continue to do so. Wine, beer and spirits are 
an essential part, but still only one department 
of the tavern-keeper's business. 

Village trusts have been introduced with 
success in some rural districts. A body of 
trustees is elected by the whole parish for a 
term of years, on much the same lines as the 
Parish Council. Management on a democratic 
basis has its good points, if only the natives 
can be roused to take a keen interest in the 
subject. But all these revolutionary dis- 
placements of " the trade " are unnecessary. 
The good conduct of the public -house depends 
not so much on those who manage it as on 
those who habitually use it, and on the growth 
of a healthy national appreciation of its value. 
If only men of good-will made it a rule to visit 
from time to time the various licensed houses 
of the neighbourhood, their very presence 
would be a wonderful help to the cause of 
morality. A good understanding with the 
landlord should be established, and then 
suggestions for the improvement of the house 
quietly and considerately discussed with him. 
We know of parish priests who, facing 
sneers about " Beer and Bible/' have pursued 
this course, and their efforts have brought 
blessing and reward. But it must be 

282 Old Country Inns 

understood that all genuine progress is slow. 
The Public -house is not so much the moulder 
as the index of public morals ; and any 
violent attempts at reforming it are as absurd 
as to manipulate a barometer with a view to 
improving the weather. 

In a recent speech the Bishop of Birming- 
ham cited as his ideal of the public-house, an 
establishment in Barcelona which he had 
visited several times, and which struck him as 
being specially delightful. He described it as 
an immense room in which there must have 
been about a thousand people. They were 
of all classes ; a good many of them were 
artisans who wore their blouses, and they were 
there with their wives and children constantly. 
They were drinking all sorts of things beer, 
wine, tea, coffee, or milk, and some of them 
were drinking a peculiar compound of a kind 
of pink colour, the nature of which he was not 
able to ascertain through an imperfect know- 
ledge of the language. There was rather a 
good band, but one could not hear it much 
because all were talking and laughing and 
making themselves extremely agreeable to 
one another. He asked himself every time 
he went there Was not that type of place of 
public resort, public refreshment, and public 

Public-House Reform 283 

amusement entirely desirable ? He had been 
there on Sundays and week-days, and he 
never felt that he had seen or heard anything 
that was not entirely desirable. Every time 
he went there and he could find the same 
thing in other countries and cities he said 
to himself : What was there in the nature of 
things why we could not have exactly this 
kind of place of public amusement and recrea- 
tion this kind of public-house with regard 
to which they would not feel the slightest 
desire for any legislation to restrict the 
opportunity of women or children or of 
anybody else going into it ? 

There are several public-houses in England 
where the presence of an enlightened thinker 
like Dr. Gore would be welcomed. One in 
particular occurs to us as we write the Ship 
at Ospringe, near Faversham. The climate 
of the Swale marshes will not admit of a hall 
to contain over a thousand people, but here 
there is a room which on Saturday nights 
might contain any number up to a hundred 
and fifty. There is no band the police 
would speedily interfere at the first trumpet 
blare ; nor any children thanks to a recent 
Act of Parliament. But his lordship would 
find a happy good-humoured company, young 

284 Old Country Inns 

men and old, wives and sweethearts, some 
drinking beer, some lemonade, young girls 
eating their supper of bread and cheese or fish, 
all engaged in merry converse, or listening 
with uncritical good-nature to songs and 
recitations provided by such among their 
number as are inclined to oblige. If a pianist 
happens to turn up, so much the better ; 
otherwise the vocalist does his best without 
accompaniment. All is homely and hearty. 
We have visited the Ship many times and 
never perceived any signs of objectionable 
conduct. If it lacks any of the advantages 
of its Barcelona rival, we must blame the law 
and the licensing authorities certainly not 
the institution. 

In Spain, as in Germany, the inn or the 
tavern is regarded as an essential element of 
civic life, not as a place to be discouraged and 
despised. A century or two ago all good and 
respectable Britons avoided the theatre, and 
the drama in England became a byword for 
immorality and licentiousness. A better 
spirit arose ; churchmen and ladies of refine- 
ment interested themselves in the theatre ; 
the ban was removed, and now we can take 
our sisters, cousins and aunts to see an English 
play without fear of incurring their reproaches. 

Angel Inn, Woolhampton 

286 Old Country Inns 

Perchance, also, a new era may await the 
public -house, and its value as an educative 
and steadying influence on the democracy 
will be understood. 

We live in the midst of a period when great 
revolutionary changes are impending. Never 
before has the struggle for existence among the 
masses been so keenly felt, or the cruel differ- 
ences of opportunity of rich and poor so 
widely ventilated. Class privilege and hered- 
itary endowment seem alike destined for the 
melting-pot. What will emerge none can tell. 
We have shown how in previous ages, when- 
ever there were great political or social changes, 
the tavern played its part. Within the doors 
of the public-house all men are brethren. 
There alone class can meet class and discuss 
their difficulties freely and even dispassion- 
ately. Society has too long left the lower 
orders to estimate the advantage of culture 
from its Tony Lumpkins. It is a great 
opportunity. The venerable house of call, 
bequeathed to us by the ages, beckons all 
to come within its kindly shelter, out of the 
storms of class hatred and political prejudice. 
Churlish and short-sighted indeed will those 
be who reject the invitation. 

For, after all, the old antiquary whom we 

Public-House Reform 


met with in the chapter on the Church Inns 
was right. The keynote of the public -house 
and its true purpose in life is Christian 
Charity. Charity which suffereth long and 
is kind, bearing all things, envying not, nor 
believing any evil ; and without which we 
are nothing. The greatest thing in Earth or 


A eland Arms, Exmoor, 188 
Addington, Angel, 23 
Albion, South Norwood, 131 
Alfriston, Star, 24, 201 
Anchor, Hartfield, 78, 142 

Liphook, 133 

Angel, Addington, 23 

Basingstoke, 23 

- Bury St. Edmunds, 23 

Grantham, 23 

Guildford, 23 

Islington, 24 

Theale, 175 

Woolhampton, 285 

Antelope, Godalming, 116 
Ashbourne, Green Man and 

Black's Head, 171 
Ash Vale, Swan, 143 
Aylesbury, George, 159 

King's Head, 59, 195 

Bagworth, Maynard Arms, 236 
Barking, Bull, 18, 22 
Barley, Fox and Hounds, 165 
Barley Mow, Hartford, 79 
Basingstoke, Angel, 23 
Battersea, Falcon, 122 
Bear, Chelsham, 174 

Maidenhead, 126 

Southwark, 20 

Wantage, 174 

Bear and Ragged Staff, Cumnor, 


Bee Hive, Grantham, 168 
Bell, Edenbridge, 171 

Edmonton, 154 

Epping, 234 

Finedon, 77 

Westminster, 77 

Warwick Lane, 77 

Bermondsey, Simon the Tanner, 


Bettws-y-Coed, Royal Oak, 157 
Birdbrook, Plough, 243 
Bird in Hand, Bromley, 139 
Bishop Blaise, New Inn Yard, 


Black Bear, Devizes, 151 
Black Lion, Walsingham, 115, 


Black Swan, Lichfield, 260 
Bletchingley, White Hart, 146 
Blue Boar, Leicester, 117 
Blue Cap, Sandiway, 140 
Book in Hand, Mabelthorpe, 


Bournville Public House, 236 
Bracknell, Hind's Head, 187 
Brentford, Three Pigeons, 153 
Brentwood, White Hart, 41, 42, 


Bricklayers' Arms, Caxton, 61 
Bridge Inn, Port Sunlight, 


Brighton, Old Steyne, 216 
Broadway, Lygon Arms, 244 
Bull, Barking, 18, 22 

Coventry, 133 

Dartford, 18, 87 

Long Melford, 21, 87, 


Mailing, 18 

Newington, 19 

Reading, 19 

Rochester, 22, 204 

St. Albans. 21 

Sudbury, 198 

Theale, 18 

Woodbridge, 150 

Bull and Bush, Hampstead, 

Bull and Mouth, St. Martins le 

Grand, 82, 127 
Bury St. Edmunds, Angel, 23 




CfBsar's Head, Great Palace 

Yard, 112 
Canterbury, Chequers, 106 

Falstaff, 152 

Fountain, 1 

Castle, Hurst, 75 

Marlborough, 91 

Castleton, George and Dragon, 

Caxton, Bricklayers' Arms, 61 

George, 86 

Chelsham, Bear, 174 
Chequers, Canterbury, 106 

Doddington, 107 

Loose, 107 

St. Albans, 107 

Slapestones, 110 

Chester, King Edgar, 112 
Chiddingfold, Crown, 208 
Chigwell, King's Head, 158 
Clare,': Swan, 175 
Clothiers' Arms, Stroud, 235 
Coach and Horses, Westmin- 
ster, 86 

Coal Hole, Strand, 236 
Cock, Fleet Street, 24 
Cock and Bell, Romford, 79 
Cock and Tabard, Westmin- 
ster, 23 

Colnbrook, Ostrich, 37, 188 
Combe St. Nicholas, Green 

Dragon, 240 

Copt Hall, London, E.C., 236 
Coventry, Bull, 133 
Crown, Chiddingfold, 208 

Dartford, 126 

Hempstead, 151 

Ospringe, 37 

Rochester, 1 

Shipton - under - Wych - 

wood, 199 

Crown and Treaty, Uxbridge, 

Cumnor, Bear and Ragged Staff, 


Dartford, Bull, 18, 87 

Crown, 126 

Derby, Dolphin, 100 

Derby, Nottingham Castle, 99 
Devizes, Black Bear, 151 
Doddington, Chequers, 107 
Dog and Doublet, Sandon, 236 
Dolphin, Derby, 100 

Portsmouth, 261 

Dorking, White Horse, 26 

Gun, 123 

Dorset Arms, Withyham, 107 
Duck in the Pond, Harrow 

Weald, 236 
Duke of Wellington, High 

Beech, 178 

Edenbridge, Bell, 171 
Edmonton, Bell, 154 
Elephant and Castle, London, 

S.E., 64, 163 
Elm Tree, Oxford, 236 
Elmers' End, William IV, 235 
Elmesthorpe, Wentworth Arms, 

Enfield, King James and the 

Tinker, 126 
Epping, Bell, 234 

Falcon, Battersea, 122 
Falstaff, Canterbury, 152 

Gad's Hill, 152 

Newington, 153 

Farnham, Jolly Farmer, 151 
Faversham, Fleur de Lis, 123 
Feathers, Ludlow, 204, 244 
Peering, Sun, 199 
Felstead, Swan, 51, 75 
Fighting Cocks, St. Albans, 2 
Finedon, Bell, 77 

First and Last, Sennen, 162 
Fittleworth, Old Swan, 158 
Five Alls, Marlborough, 176 
Fleur de Lis, Faversham, 123 
Flyford Flavel, Union, 239 
Fountain, Canterbury, 1 

Portsmouth, 261 

Four Swans, Waltham Cross. 


Fox and Hounds, Barley, 165 
Fox and Pelican, Haslemere, 




George, Aylesbury, 159 

Caxton, 86 

Glastonbury, 39, 199 

Hayes, 158, 236 

Huntingdon, 78 

Rochester, 37 

St. Albans, 39 

Southwark, 87 

Winchester, 54 

Wymondham, 39 

George and Dragon, Castleton, 


Wargrave, 158 

General Wolfe, Westerham, 131, 


Gipsy Queen, Norwood, 131 
Glastonbury, George, 39, 199 
Gloucester, New Inn, 32, 87, 


Goat House, Norwood, 206 
Godalming, Antelope, 116 

King's Arms, 10 

Three Lions, 11 

Godstone, Clayton Arms, 208 
Golden Fleece, South Weald, 


Golden Lion, St. Ives, 87 
Green Dragon, Combe St. 

Nicholas, 240 
Green Man, Croydon, Dul- 

wich, Leytonstone, 65 

Tunstall, 236 

Green Man and Black's Head, 

Ashbourne, 171 
Grantham, Angel, 23 

Beehive, 168 

Blue Inns, 168 

Greyhound, Strand, 235 
Guildford, Angel, 23 

White Hart, 41 

White Lion, 117 

Gun, Dorking, 123 

Half Brick, Worthing, 169 
Hampton - on - Thames, Red 

Lion, 114 
Harrow Weald, Duck in the 

pond, 236 
Har tfield Anchor, 78, 142 

Haslemere, Fox and Pelican, 

Hawkhurst, Queen's Hotel, 142 

Hemel Hempstead, King's 
Arms, x 

Hempstead, Crown, 151 

Henley-in-Arden, White Swan, 

Henley-on-Thames, Red Lion, 

Hereford, Raven, 151 

High Beech, Duke of Welling- 
ton, 178 

High Easter, Punch Bowl, 74, 

Hind's Head, Bracknell, 187 

Hole in the Wall, Borough, 169 

Waterloo Station, 169 

Hollingbourne, Windmill, 179 
Holy Blaise, Kidderminster, 


Honest Miller, Wye, 168 
Horse and Groom, Waltham St. 

Lawrence, 136 

Hundred House, Purslow, 236 
Huntingdon, George, 78, 87 

Queen's Head, 79 

Hurst, Castle, 75 

Isaac Walton, Ashbourne, 144 
Islington, Angel, 24 

Pied Bull, 120 

Queen's Head, 120 

Sir Hugh Middleton, 120 

Jack of Newbury, Reading, 131 
Jack Straw's Castle, Hamp- 

stead, 126 

Jolly Farmer, Farnham, 151 
Jolly Sailor, South Norwood, 


Kelvedon, Wheatsheaf, 151 
Kentish Drovers, Old Kent 

Road, 177 

King Edgar, Chester, 112 
King James and the Tinker, 

Enfield, 126 
King's Arms, Godalming, 10 



King's Arms, Hemel Hemp- 
stead, x 

King's Head, Aylesbury, 59, 

Chigwell, 158 

Roehampton, 118 

King's Heath, Red Lion, 236 
Kingsbury, Plough, 109 
Kidderminster, Holy Blaise, 


Lamb, Eastbourne, 77 

Lamb and Anchor, Bristol, 78 

Lamb and Flag, Brighton, 78 

Sudbury, Swindon, 78 

Leicester, Blue Boar, 117 
Lichfield, Black Swan, 261 
Lickfold, Three Horseshoes, 108 
Lincoln, Reindeer, 138 

Lip hook, Anchor, 133 

Lisle Castle, Chalk, Gravesend, 

Long Melford, Bull, 21, 87, 


Loose, Chequers, 107 
Loughton, Wheatsheaf, 234 
Ludlow, Feathers, 204, 244 
Lurgashall, Noah's Ark, 207 
Lygon Arms, Broadway, 244 

Mabelthorpe, Book in Hand, 


Maidenhead, Bear, 126 
Maid's Head, Norwich, 202, 


Maidstone, Nelson, 129 
Mailing, Bull, 18 
Manchester, Seven Stars, 1 
Marlborough, Castle, 91 

Five Alls, 176 

Marquis of Granby, Deptford, 


Epsom, 128 

Martlesham, Red Lion, 174 
Maynard Arms, Bagworth, 236 
Midhurst, Spread Eagle, 7 
Monster, Pimlico, 161 

Nelson, Maidstone, 129 

Newark, Ossington, 236 

Saracen's Head, 1 

Newington, Bull, 19 

Falstaff, 153 

New Inn, Gloucester, 32, 87, 

New Romney, 250 

Noah's Ark, Lurgashall, 207 
Norwich, Maid's Head, 202, 

Norwood, Gipsy Queen, 131 

Goat House, 206 

Nautical Inns, 131 

Nottingham Castle, Derby, 99 
Nottingham, Ram, 1 

Old Red House, nr. Newmarket, 


Old Steyne, Brighton, 216 
Old White House, Oxford, 236 
Ossington, Newark, 236 
Ospringe, Crown, 37 

Ship, 37 

Ostrich, Colnbrook, 37, 188 
Oxford, Elm Tree, 236 

Old White House, 236 

Oxford Arms, Warwick Lane, 

Papworth Everard, Three 

Horse Shoes, 108 
Pelican, Speen, 125 
Pied Bull, Islington, 120 
Fleshy, White Horse, 98 
Plough, Birdbrook, 243 

Kingsbury, 109 

Smallfield, 208 

Upper Dicker, 109 

Plumbley, Smoker, 141 
Portsmouth, Dolphin, 261 

Fountain, 261 

Port Sunlight, Bridge Inn, 236 
Prince Albert, Rodborough, 

Punch Bowl, High Easter, 74, 

Purslow, Hundred House, 236 

Queen's Head, Huntingdon, 79 



Queen's Head, Islington, 120 
Queen's Hotel, Hawkhurst, 142 

Ram, Nottingham, 1 
Raven, Hereford, 151 
Reading, Bull, 19 
Redbourne, Chequers, 107 
Red House, Stratford-on-Avon, 

Red Lion, Hampton - on - 

Thames, 114, 148 

Henley, 154 

King's Heath, 236 

Martlesham, 174 

Sittingbourne, 114 

Speldhurst, 114 

Truro, 244 

Wingham, 113, 195 

Reformation, Reading, 169 
Reindeer, Lincoln, 138 
Rochester, Bull, 22, 204 

George, 37 

Rodborough, Prince Albert, 


Roehampton, King's Head, 118 
Romford, Cock and Bell, 79 
Rose, Wokingham, 94 
Rose and Crown, Sudbury, 204 
Royal Oak, Bettws-y-Coed, 157 
Running Horse, Sandling, 141 

Saffron Walden, Sun, 174 
St. Albans, Bull, 21 

Chequers, 107 

Fighting Cocks, 2 

George, 39 

White Hart, 85 

St. Anna's Castle, Great 

Leighs, 165 

Sandiway, Blue Cap, 140 
Sandon, Dog and Doublet, 236 
Saracen's Head, Newark, 1 
Scole, White Hart, 172 
Sennen, First and Last, 162 
Seven Stars, Manchester, 1 
Shefford, Swan, 174 
Ship, Norwood, 131 

Ospringe, 37, 283 

Wingham, 194 

Shipton - under - Wychwood, 

Crown, 199 

Sieve, Minories, E.G., 164 
Simon the Tanner, Bennond- 

sey, 61 
Sir Hugh Middleton, Islington, 


Sittingbourne, Red Lion, 114 
Skittles, Letchworth, 231 
Slapestones, Chequers, 110 
Smallfield, Plough, 208 
Smoker, Plumbley, 141 
Sonning, White Hart, 2361 
South Weald, Golden Fleece, 63 
Speen, Pelican, 125 
Speldhurst, Red Lion, 114 
Spread Eagle, Midhurst, 7 
Spital, Stanmore, 189 
Star, Alfriston, 24, 201 

Great Yarmouth, 204 

Star and Garter, Brighton, 155 
Stratford-on-Avon, Red Horse, 

Strand, Clothiers' Arms, 

Swan, Ash Vale, 143 

Clare, 175 

Felstead, 51, 75 

Fittleworth, 158 

Grasmere, 158 

Shefford, 174 

Sutton Valence, 116 

Tarporley, 140 

Swan and Maiden Head, Strat- 
ford-on-Avon, 152 
Sudbury, Bull, 19, 198 

Rose and Crown, 204 

Sun, Peering. 199 

Saffron Walden, 174 

Sutton Valence, Swan, 116 

Tabard, Southwark, 25 

Tarporley, Swan, 140 

Ten Bells, Leeds, Kent, 179 

Theale, Angel, 175 

Three Crosses, nr. Daventry, 


Three Frogs, Wokingham, 123 
Three Horseshoes, Lickfold, 108 




Three Horseshoes, Papworth 

Everard, 108 

Three Lions, Godalming, 11 
Three Pigeons, Brentford, 153 
Tiger, Lindfield, 7 
Truro, Red Lion, 244 
Tunstall, Green Man, 236 
Turpin's Cave, High Beech, 


Unicorn, Weobley, 121 
Union, Flyford Flavel, 239 
Upper Dicker, Plough, 109 
Uxbridge, Crown and Treaty, 

Walsingham, Black Lion, 115, 

Waltham Gross, Four Swans, 


Wantage, Bear, 174 
Warbolt - in - Tun, Warbleton, 

Warlingham, White Lion, 145, 


Weobly, Unicorn, 121 
Wentworth Arms, Elmsthorpe, 

Westerham, General Wolfe, 

Westminster, Cock and Tabard, 


Coach and Horses, 86 

West Wickham, White Hart, 

Wheatsheaf, Kelvedon, 151 

Wheatsheaf, Loughton, 234 

Bletchingley. 146 

White Hart, Borough, 176 

Brentwood, 41, 199 

Godalming, 117 

Godstone, 208 

Guildford, 41 

St. Albans, 85 

Scole, 172 

Sonning, 236 

West Wickham, 235 

Witham, 89, 176 

White Horse, Dorking, 26 

Kensington, 148 

Fleshy, 98 

White Lion, Bristol, 117 

Guildford, 117 

Warlingham, 145 

White Swan, Henley-in-Arden, 


(See also Swan) 
William IV, Elmers' End, 235 
Winchester, George, 54 
Windmill, Hollingbourne, 179 
Wingham, Red Lion, 113, 195 

Ship, 194 

Witham, White Hart, 89, 176 
Withyham, Dorset Arms, 107 
Wokingham, Rose, 94 

Three Frogs, 123 

Woodbridge, Bull, 150 
Wye, Honest Miller, 168 
Wymondham, Green Dragon, 


Yarmouth, Star, 204 


Press of Isaac Pitman & Sons, Bath, England. 





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